Promising boxer's final words after being shot at packed Doncaster pub were: 'Is it bad,' jury told

The final words of a ‘promising boxer’ who was fatally shot in a packed Doncaster pub were: ‘Is it bad,’ a court heard.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 12:05 pm
'Promising boxer' Tom Bell was fatally shot at the Maple Tree pub in Balby on January 17 this year

21-year-old Tom Bell was enjoying a night out with friends at the Maple Tree pub in Balby, Doncaster on January 17 this year, when a masked gun man appeared outside the bay window near to where he was sitting and shot him twice.

Scott Gocoul, 28, of no fixed abode and Joseph Bennia, 30, of no fixed abode, went on trial at Sheffield Crown Court this afternoon, accused of Mr Bell’s murder.

Hundreds of people turned out for the funeral of Tom Bell at St Peters in Chains Church in Doncaster on February 18 this year

Prosecutor, Nicholas Campbell QC, told the jury it is the Crown’s case that one of the defendants waited in a stolen white BMW that was parked on a roundabout yards away from the pub, as the other one carried out the fatal shooting with a shotgun at 8.44pm.

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“The prosecution cannot say at this stage precisely what role each of these defendants played,” said Mr Campbell. The court heard how one of Mr Bell’s friends spotted the gunman before he opened fire and shouted: ‘get down’ as the killer pulled out his gun.

Mr Campbell said: “As everyone reacted to that, two shots were fired in quick succession, each in a different direction, breaking two panes of glass.”

After receiving his fatal injuries, Mr Bell repeatedly shouted: ‘I’ve been shot, I’ve been shot’.

“Tom Bell’s last words were to ask: ‘Is it bad?,” Mr Campbell told the jury, adding that he collapsed by the bar seconds later and never regained consciousness.

Mr Bell died at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield a short time later.

Bar staff said Mr Bell was shot in front of an estimated 60-70 witnesses, many of whom had come to the pub for the weekly quiz that had been due to start at 9pm that evening.

The jury were shown CCTV footage of the fatal shooting.

Mr Campbell described Mr Bell as a ‘promising boxer’ who had turned professional at the age of 18 and was due to have his seventh professional fight in February this year, just weeks after he was gunned down.

Despite having a bright future ahead of him in boxing, Mr Campbell said Mr Bell was ‘no angel’ and in addition to stints in prison, he had also been accused of being involved in the attempted robbery of Goucoul’s partner at her home in 2016.

Mr Bell was arrested and interviewed over the attempted robbery after Goucoul’s partner identified him through Facebook, but he was never charged.

“It appears Scott Goucoul didn’t do anything about it until the night of the murder, but he had spent much of the intervening time in prison,” said Mr Campbell.

Jurors were told that Goucoul and Bennia had been in the Maple Tree pub hours before the fatal shooting took place.

Mr Campbell said it is the Crown’s case that after seeing Mr Bell there, the pair travelled in a 4x4 vehicle owned by Goucoul’s partner to a lock-up Bennia had at Ready, Steady, Store in Wheatley, from which he retrieved a black holdall bag.

“It’s the prosecution case that inside that holdall was the shot gun used to murder Tom Bell,” said Mr Campbell.

The Crown claim the pair subsequently picked up a white BMW that had been stolen during a burglary in Rotherham the previous month.

Goucoul and Bennia are alleged to have driven the 4x4 and the stolen BMW, in convoy, to a secluded country road in White Cross Lane, Wadworth.

They are said to have travelled to and back from the murder scene in the stolen BMW, before burning it out, and fleeing the scene in the 4x4.

Mr Campbell told the jury: “You will be hearing that Joey Bennia was then asked by Scott Goucoul to burn his clothes, and he dutifully did what Scott Gououl told him...the defendants were then separated, and as far as the prosecution can tell, they were not to meet again until they appeared at court together, charged with Tom Bell’s murder.”

Goucoul, who appeared at court wearing a t-shirt with the word ‘icon’ emblazoned across it, was arrested by armed police at a Premier Inn hotel in Hull on January 19.

The court heard how a sex worker Goucoul had requested the services of answered the door to police, and officers found him lying in bed.

Bennia, who wore a shirt, tie and waistcoat to court, was arrested by police two days later on January 21.

Further details of Bennia’s arrest are due to be detailed to the jury tomorrow morning, when Mr Campbell is expected to conclude the opening of the prosecution case.

Goucoul and Bennia both deny a single charge of murder.

The trial, which is expected to last five weeks, continues.