A man who has admitted killing an antiques dealer went to a sauna after torching the victim’s body and house.
Zack Cowdrey yesterday told jurors at Hove Crown Court how hours after he set fire to Michael Griffiths’ home he visited the gym and had a sauna.
The 23-year-old, who admits manslaughter, perverting the cause of justice and conspiracy to burgle, but denies murder, yesterday agreed he would have done “anything” to protect himself after Mr Griffiths died on January 24 last year.
He said he “knew he had to go back and do something” after Mr Griffiths’ death. He set alight the 59-year-old’s home in Old Glebe, Fernhurst, to destroy forensic evidence.
He said: “A man had just died in front of me. I was panicking.”
Cowdrey said he did not intend to kill Mr Griffiths and only wanted to steal a safe from his home.
In initial police interviews Cowdrey said he had not been at Mr Griffiths’ home in Fernhurst – but he later admitted that he had.
He agreed in court he lied, but added: “At the time they were saying I had tortured someone. I was scared – I am not a murderer.”
Cowdrey, of Meadway, Staines, stands trial alongside Simon Penton, 27, of Sunbury, who has admitted conspiracy to burgle homes in Loxwood, Poynings, Godalming in Surrey and Mr Griffiths’ home but denies murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Kerry Rudder, 43, of the same address, denies murder, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and conspiracy to burgle a home in Loxwood.
Damian Krafft, of High Street, Shepperton, denies murder and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
Harvey Mumford, of Monks Way, Staines, has admitted conspiracy to burgle homes in Loxwood, Poynings, Godalming in Surrey and Mr Griffiths’ home, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in relation to the fire.
John Bartholomew, 72, of Centurion House, Portsmouth, denies murder and conspiracy to commit burglaries in Loxwood, Fernhurst and Poynings.
Rebecca Rogers, 39, of Pool End Close, Shepperton, denies conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The trial continues.