A factory employee accused of battering his colleague to death near his home in Sheffield left work an hour early on the night of the attack and said he was going night-fishing, a court heard today.
Shaun Wainwright left the factory at Fluorocarbon Bakeware Systems (FBS) in Sheffield, where he worked alongside murder victim Simon Holdsworth, at 10pm on December 16, 2013, a jury at Teesside Crown Court was told.
The 46-year-old is accused of lying in wait for Mr Holdsworth and attacking him as he walked across playing fields to his house in the Hackenthorpe area of the city later that night.
Adam Wilson, a colleague of both men at the firm making non-stick coating for the baking industry, said their shift finished at 11pm but he thought Wainwright left at around 10pm.
He told the jury: “He left early that night because he was going night-fishing. He was picking up his friend to go night-fishing.”
When questioned about how well he remembered what happened, he added: “It was quite a long time ago and when I was questioned about that night it was quite a while after.
“It sticks in my head, it is quite a vivid memory. I wouldn’t want to swear on my life that it happened. If his car did leave early it would obviously be on CCTV.”
Mr Wilson said Simon Holdsworth was still at work when he left at 10.50pm, and told the court it was common knowledge which bus his colleague usually took and how he got home.
He said Mr Holdsworth, 36, who was engaged to be married, had previously said he didn’t like crossing the playing fields near his home at night because one of the lights didn’t work.
Mr Wilson, a paint sprayer who had worked at FBS since 2010, said he saw Wainwright, of Dagnam Road, Arbourthorne, the next day at around 7pm after he walked into the factory with a kebab despite not being down to work.
He and his colleagues had earlier been told something serious had happened to Mr Holdsworth and had been talking about what they thought might have taken place.
Talking about the general atmosphere at the company, Mr Wilson said there was no “bad blood” between any of the employees and workers had good relationships with each other.
He added: “In that environment there is a bit of banter. You have a laugh and call each other names but there is nothing malicious.”
Another colleague, Richard Whiffin, said he spoke to Wainwright on December 17. He said Wainwright told him he had planned to go fishing the previous night but could not go as he left his wallet at work.
He said he returned to the factory to get the wallet but couldn’t get in, the jury heard.
During cross examination by Nicholas Rhodes QC, a police statement Mr Whiffin gave on January 9 was read out.
In the statement, Mr Whiffin said to police that Wainwright told him on December 17 he had come back to the factory for his wallet that morning, rather than the previous night.
Mr Rhodes said to Mr Whiffin that this and his court evidence could not both be true, and that the witness was “repeating evidence you have heard from someone else”. Mr Whiffin denied this.
Later, another colleague, Barry Broomhead, said he spoke to Wainwright twice on the morning of December 17 at the factory, and during one of the conversations Wainwright said he had come back to pick up his wallet.
Mr Broomhead said he asked Wainwright what time Mr Holdsworth had left work the previous night, and the defendant said he left at the normal time and a colleague had dropped him at the bus-stop.
At this point in the morning, the court heard, employees at the factory had already heard that a body had been found in Hackenthorpe and received a call from Mr Holdsworth’s partner saying he hadn’t come the previous night.
Wainwright is alleged to have killed Mr Holdsworth on playing fields by Rainbow Forge Primary School, near his home in Hackenthorpe, on the evening of December 16.
Mr Holdsworth’s body was found on the playing fields the following morning by a member of the public. He had wounds to the back of his head and had a fractured skull, with the injuries consistent with being attacked with a blunt weapon.
Wainwright denies the murder of Mr Holdsworth, a 36-year-old father who was engaged to be married to his partner Carleen McKeown.
The court was also read a statement by Miss McKeown describing her relationship with Mr Holdsworth and her last contact with him before he was murdered.
She spoke to him by phone at 9.30pm on the night he was killed, with Mr Holdsworth asking her to wait up for him as they hadn’t seen each other in a couple of days.
Miss McKeown told him he could bring her up a cup of tea when he got home but he said he didn’t want to wake her and the couple agreed to speak the next day.
When she woke up the next day, her partner wasn’t at home and the Christmas tree lights hadn’t been turned off, something he usually did when he got home.
The court was told she called her father and Mr Holdsworth’s mother to find out where he was, as well as calling the factory. When he failed to turn up, she repeatedly called Mr Holdsworth’s phone and her father’s.
She said in her statement that two police liaison officers arrived at her house later that morning to tell her that Mr Holdsworth’s body had been found at the playing field.
Miss McKeown described her relationship with Mr Holdsworth as “strong and loving” and that he regarded himself as the father of her son Tiarnan, from a previous relationship.
She said the pair sometimes had arguments, which could be “quite heated” but never physical, and when they got engaged in 2011 she “could not have been happier”.
The statement said: “I would describe Simon as a very generous person who would always give up his time to help people, to the point where I became frustrated with him because there were things to be done at home.”
The court was told the couple were “not wealthy but financially stable” and planned to get married in August 2014.
Earlier, the court was told Mr Holdsworth’s body was discovered by a call centre worker who came across him on the playing fields as he walked to catch a taxi at around 6.15am.
Jake Green, who worked at a Marks and Spencer site in Rotherham, said he saw something as he walked across the field in the dark which he initially thought was bedding or a duvet.
In a statement read to the court, he said he realised it was a body as he got closer and saw blood round the man’s face, nose and lips.
Mr Green said he tried to make a noise to wake Mr Holdsworth but when that didn’t walk he ran to the waiting taxi and asked him to call an ambulance.
He said: “He just looked like he was asleep. He had his arms by his side and he looked like he was asleep.”
Stephen Lindley, a Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic who was called to the scene just before 6.30am, said the victim had “obvious swelling to his face and his mouth”.
He added: “He had obvious blood loss from his nose, mouth and facial injuries. His colouration was grey. My immediate thought was that the male was deceased.”