A heroin dealer accused of being the “master criminal” in a plot to murder Peter Battle claimed this week to have been celebrating New Year with his family at the time of the attack.
Darren Archer denied a gap in use of his personal mobile meant he had switched phones to prevent his calls being linked to the robbery of the antiques dealer.
It was alleged Archer was using a “job phone” to cover his tracks should checks be made of his phone records during the time frame of Mr Battle’s death.
Teesside Crown Court was told that while Graham Richardson alone is on trial for Mr Battle’s murder, Richardson claims he found the victim already dead after spotting Archer and three accomplices fleeing the cottage in Full Sutton, near Pocklington.
However, Archer denied having been anywhere near Full Sutton in 12 years and said he was certainly not there between last December 29 and New Year Eve.
Barrister Simon Csoka, for Richardson, suggested Archer on those dates was using a “job phone” which was only going to be used for the robbery.
But, gesturing at Richardson in the dock, Archer told the jury: “Peter Battle belongs to him. I was too busy enjoying New Year with my children.”
The body of 56-year-old Mr Battle was found five weeks after he was killed at his cottage. Mr Csoka maintained 5ft 3ins tall Archer needed a knife to protect himself and it was him who had stabbed Mr Battle. But Archer told Teesside Crown Court he would “not treat a dog” the way Mr Battle had suffered. “I would not do that to another human being. I have a conscience.”
He also denies robbing gold collector Michael Cleaver in York a few weeks before the murder.
Archer’s girlfriend Christine Baker said: “He is innocent. I know he has not done that. He has always been with me and I would know. Darren had no reason to go and rob someone.” She denied lying to police about phone numbers Archer used in an attempt to avoid tying him to the murder scene.
After being arrested on suspicion of robbing Mr Cleaver, Richardson claims he secretly met Archer again and the plot to target Mr Battle was hatched.
But Prosecutor Nicholas Lumley said while Archer was “being portrayed as some sort of master criminal who organised this thing” it was not the Crown’s case that Archer was involved in Mr Battle’s death.
Richardson, 27, of Riverside View, Norton, denies murdering Mr Battle. Archer, 43, of Nunnery Lane, and his cousin Peter Egan, 47, formerly of Walmgate, both York, deny robbing Mr Cleaver.