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Three people jailed for life for murder of vulnerable Ipswich man Joe Pooley whose body was found in River Gipping




Three people have been handed life sentences for murdering a vulnerable man whose body was found in a river in 2018.

Joe Pooley, 22, of Ipswich, was found in the River Gipping in the town at about 10.30am on Monday, August 13.

And at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, two men and a woman were all jailed for at least 17 years for his murder.

Sebastian Smith, Becki West-Davidson, and Sean Palmer have been given life sentences after being convicted of the murder of Joe Pooley
Sebastian Smith, Becki West-Davidson, and Sean Palmer have been given life sentences after being convicted of the murder of Joe Pooley

All three had denied being responsible for Mr Pooley's death, but were found guilty at Ipswich Crown Court in March following a five-month trial.

Sebastian Smith, previously known as Luke Greenland, aged 35, of Ramsay Road in Hawick, Roxburghshire was ordered to serve a minimum of 21 years.

Sean Palmer, 31, of South Market Road in Great Yarmouth was told he will be behind bars for at least 18 years.

The three people were sentenced for the murder of Joe Pooley at Ipswich Crown Court. Picture by Mark Westley
The three people were sentenced for the murder of Joe Pooley at Ipswich Crown Court. Picture by Mark Westley

And Rebecca (Becki) West-Davidson, 30, previously known as Rebecca Shelvin, of Roper Court in Ipswich, must serve at least 17 years of her jail term.

A fourth person, 26-year-old Lisa-Marie Smith, of Ramsay Road in Hawick, Roxburghshire, was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter.

The court heard Mr Pooley was a vulnerable adult and needed the support of his family and social care, and knew all three defendants as they were part of the same extended social network.

Mr Pooley was reported missing to police on Friday, August 10 and on Monday, August 13, his body was discovered in a still part of the river by a member of the public at about 10.30am.

A post-mortem examination carried out on August 14, 2018 determined that the likely cause of Joe Pooley’s death was immersion in water.

Police had begun an investigation into the circumstances of the unexplained death and following initial enquiries, a murder investigation was launched, led by the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team.

After a lengthy and complex investigation, detectives concluded that Joe Pooley had been unlawfully killed in the early hours of August 7, 2018.

This led to the three defendants being charged with murder, having acted together as part of a joint enterprise to cause Mr Pooley really serious harm or death.

Palmer and West-Davidson were first arrested on October 2, 2018 on suspicion of murder and both subsequently released.

Smith was first arrested on suspicion of murder on January 17, 2019 before being released.

Over the course of the next eight months the investigation continued with further interviews taking place.

On October 30, 2019 Smith was charged with murder. The following day Palmer and West-Davidson were also charged with murder.

Detective Inspector Karl Nightingale, of the Major Investigation Team, said: "Joe Pooley was a young man who wanted to be liked and sought friendship.

"Sadly, some people took advantage of his vulnerabilities and used him.

"The convictions and sentencing of Sebastian Smith, Sean Palmer and Becki West-Davidson bring to a close a long wait for some justice for Joe’s family.

"They have shown great resilience and patience throughout whilst also grieving the loss of a much-loved son, grandson, brother, uncle, family member and friend. My thoughts will always be with them.”

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