Beds, Herts & Bucks

Colonel Riley Workman murder: Car 'near killing scene'

Lt Col Robert Riley Workman
Image caption Lt Col Robert Workman was killed at his Hertfordshire cottage in 2004

A car belonging to the man accused of murdering a retired Army officer was spotted on the night he was shot dead, a court has been told.

Christopher Docherty-Puncheon's Range Rover was seen close to the scene of the killing in Furneux Pelham, Hertfordshire, a jury was told.

Mr Docherty-Puncheon, 33, denies murdering Lt Col Robert "Riley" Workman on 7 January 2004.

He told St Albans Crown Court he was at home on the night of the killing.

Driver Gary Chambers told the court how, shortly after the killing, he was in his car near the scene of the shooting when he saw a Range Rover and noticed part of the number plate spelt "SOHO".

Shotgun blast

The jury has heard that at the time of the murder, Mr Docherty-Puncheon was living in the nearby village of Stocking Pelham and drove a Range Rover with the number plate N50H0.

The court heard that Lt Col Workman, an 83-year-old widower, answered a knock at the door of cottage shortly after 20:15 GMT on the evening he was killed by a shotgun blast.

Mr Chambers, a self-employed gardener, told the court that at the time of the shooting he lived in Furneux Pelham.

He said on the night of 7 January 2004, he had been at home helping to get his son ready for bed when he heard "the bang of a shotgun".

Image caption Christopher Docherty-Puncheon denies killing Lt Col Workman

Mr Chambers said he had later driven to visit his parents in Buntingford and on the way had bought petrol from a garage on the A10.

He was able to produce a receipt which showed the transaction was timed at 21:31 GMT.

He said shortly before, he had been driving from Furneux Pelham along a country lane when he had stopped to let another vehicle pass.

"It wasn't coming particularly fast and the vehicle came into my view. It drove past slowly with dipped headlights," he said.

Mr Chambers said as it got closer, he could identify the vehicle as a Range Rover P38, and its numberplate spelt out "SOHO".

He said he had seen the vehicle before in Stocking Pelham and Furneux Pelham.

'Hit-man claim'

At the time of the murder the defendant was known as Christopher Nudds and was a 24-year-old pest controller living with his parents.

He had worked for Lt Col Workman in the past, according to the prosecution, having visited just months before to deal with a wasps' nest.

But while at Bedford Prison, where he was being held on remand nearly a year later for the murder of traveller Fred Moss, 21, Mr Docherty-Puncheon is alleged to have told an inmate he had shot Lt Col Workman.

He claimed he was "a hit-man" who had been paid for the killing, the court heard.

Mr Docherty-Puncheon is also alleged to have told the inmate he had had a sexual relationship with Lt Col Workman, but had had to shoot him because he was threatening to tell the police about Mr Moss being involved in drugs.

The defendant was later convicted of murdering Mr Moss and is alleged to have told the other prisoner he had killed him because he knew too much about the shooting of Lt Col Workman.

The prosecution alleges the killing were linked and that both men died at the hands of Mr Docherty-Puncheon.

Telephone box

Lorry driver John Wilson said in the early hours of 8 January 2004 he had been driving through the nearby village of Braughing when he noticed a four-wheel drive vehicle with its headlights on, parked near a phone box.

Earlier the jury were told that at 04:49 that morning a 999 call was made from the telephone box at Braughing asking for an ambulance be sent to The Causeway in Furneux Pelham, where Lt Col Workman's cottage was.

The caller did not reveal who he was and gave a name for Lt Col Workman's house that had not been used for many years.

As a result, the ambulance crew could not locate the address and put the call down to a hoax.

The trial continues.

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