Tom Bell murder trial: Defendant tells jury he was 'bullied' by victim's family but denies revenge shooting

A man accused of killing a boxer in a Doncaster pub shooting told a jury that the victim and his family bullied him for years – but denies murdering him.

Thursday, 25th July 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 11:36 am
'Promising boxer' Tom Bell was fatally shot at the Maple Tree pub in Balby on January 17 this year

Scott Goucoul, 28, and Joseph Bennia, 30, both of no fixed abode, are accused of the murder of 21-year-old Tom Bell, who was fatally shot at the Maple Tree pub in Balby, Doncaster on January 17 this year.

The prosecution allege that one of the two defendants acted as the gunman, while the had the role of getaway driver, and waited in a stolen BMW on a roundabout yards away from the pub as the fatal shooting was carried out.

During his evidence at Sheffield Crown Court on Thursday, Goucoul agreed under cross-examination from Bennia’s barrister, Christopher Tehrani QC, that the Bell family had targeted five people close to him, including the father of his former partner, Francesca Salt, by either shooting through windows at their property or blowing up their cars.

Tom Bell.

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Mr Tehrani asked Goucoul about a telephone conversation he had with Ms Salt from prison in which he said: ‘I don’t care, it can all come out in court about they bullied us for years’.

“Who were you referring to,” asked Mr Tehrani.

“Tom Bell,” said Goucoul.

When asked about how long Mr Bell and his family had ‘bullied’ him for, Goucoul said it had started in 2016 and claimed it was ‘continuing even now’.

“I’ve never had any physical run-ins with Tom. All they do is shoot windows in or burn cars,” he said.

Goucoul said the Bell family had previously described him and Ms Salt as ‘grasses’ to mutual friends.

During Ms Salt’s evidence earlier this month, she told the court that two men attempted to rob her at her home in July 2016, and she believed one of the two men to be Mr Bell.

He was never charged with an offence in connection with the alleged robbery.

Ms Salt said she reported the incident to police a couple of days after it had taken place, but subsequently withdrew the complaint due to fear of recriminations and being labelled a ‘grass’.

Following this, Ms Salt said her father’s house was shot at and his car was also set on fire. She said the Bell family were rumoured to be linked with these incidents.

Goucoul was serving time in prison when the attempted robbery and incidents at her father’s house took place, the court heard.

“Did you resent what Tom Bell had done to Francesca and her father, and that you were having to travel,” asked Mr Tehrani, referring to claims Goucoul had moved out of Doncaster because of the trouble he had been experiencing but was still going and back and forth so he could deal drugs in the borough.

Goucoul replied: “No, not at all.”

Mr Tehrani added: “Did you believe the Bells had been getting away with too much for too long?”

“No,” answered Goucoul.

Mr Tehrani told Goucoul: “You know it’s the prosecution case that you had a beef with Tom Bell, and the evidence suggests this was a continued beef with Tom Bell and his family.”

“No,” said Goucoul.

“Were you going to teach Mr Bell a lesson,” asked Mr Tehrani.

Goucoul replied: “No.”

Mr Tehrani continued: “Was that you standing in the window of the Maple Tree [with a gun]?”

“No,” said Goucoul.

Mr Tehrani referred to evidence given by one witness who said the gunman was of a ‘stocky’ build and was around 5’4 in height, and suggested this description matched Goucoul’s appearance.

Goucoul responded: “[That’s because] he’s describing me. From when this happened, they’ve all been saying it was me, and they know what I look like, and believe I’m responsible.”

“If what you’re saying is true..he could have just named you as the gunman’,” said Mr Tehrani.

Goucoul replied: “Well, anyone could have named me.”

Mr Tehrani told the jury how following Mr Bell’s murder Goucoul threw his iPhone 6S out of his car window as he was travelling on the motorway, and it has never been recovered.

Goucoul said he threw his phone away because he was concerned the people who believed he was responsible for Mr Bell’s murder may be able to trace him through the Find my iPhone app.

Mr Terhani asked: “Why not just switch it off?”

“I don’t know, I just threw it,” said Goucoul.

Mr Tehrani replied: “Was there something on the phone you didn’t want to be recovered?”

“No,” said Goucoul.

Goucoul and Bennia both deny one count of murder.

The trial, which is expected to conclude next week, continues.