Essex

Clacton murder trial: Man 'threatened to burn down flat'

Station Road, Clacton
Image caption A police cordon was put in place at the scene in Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea

A man received a call in which threats were made to set fire to a neighbour's flat shortly before a blaze in which a man was found dead, a court heard.

Paul Gillett, 54, was found dead at a flat in Clacton, Essex, on Boxing Day 2018 following a fire.

Seth Stollery, 48, and Freya Parker-Magowan, 44, are accused of his murder and arson with intent to endanger life.

The pair, of no fixed address, have denied the charges during a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

A neighbour of Mr Gillett, Frank Reeves, told the jury he had allowed his neighbour to use his mobile phone to make several calls before receiving a call from another man at 03:16 GMT on Boxing Day "who threatened to kill Paul and burn the place down".

Mr Reeves said: "He sounded overly drunk."

Mr Reeves had engaged in a series of texts with a man who said he was Ms Parker-Magowan's partner, in which he told him Mr Gillett had be having an affair with her, the court heard.

He believed this to be Mr Stollery.

However, Katy Thorne, for Mr Stollery, said Mr Reeves had "exaggerated his account" in order to ensure the police did not prosecute him in relation to several alleged offences.

A statement from another neighbour, Cheralyn Sylvester, was read out to the court which described hearing a man and woman's voices near the fire escape of her flat block which was next to where Mr Gillett lived.

The trial continues.

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