A SECOND man arrested on suspicion of killing a vulnerable woman has denied any involvement.

John Parish gave evidence in the murder trial of Nicola Stevenson who was found dead in a wheelie bin in Lewes.

He had been the ex partner of the 39-year-old mum of two, and was arrested on suspicion of murder, but was ruled out by the police.

The South African appeared in the witness box after defendant Richard Canlin, 42, blamed him for the murder at Stansfield Road, Lewes in October last year.

The Argus:

John Parish is blamed by defendant Richard Canlin

Canlin denies murder and told police he “froze” when he saw Mr Parish strike Nicola with a hammer, the alleged murder weapon.

Mr Parish said he was living rough in Eastbourne when he met Nicola in August 2019.

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She was born with a form of dwarfism and needed a mobility scooter to get around town.

Mr Parish told the jury at Hove Crown Court that she asked him to move in with her to be her carer.

He said the vulnerable mum-of-two had wanted a relationship with him but he told the court he “wasn’t into it.”

The Argus:

Nicola Stevenson was found dead in Lewes

Mr Parish said Nicola Stevenson was controlling and he moved out of the flat willingly after two weeks in September, 2019.

He told the jury Richard Canlin was already living there when he moved in and all three were using crack cocaine and heroin together at the flat.

Jeremy Wainwright QC, defending, asked him if he returned to the flat to demand money he said he was owed.

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Mr Wainwright QC said: “You, Nicola Stevenson and Richard Canlin were all together in October, an argument happened over drugs and payment.

“You grabbed Nicola Stevenson around the neck and punched her.”

Mr Parish said: “No.”

He denied knowing Nicola Stevenson kept a hammer in the flat for protection.

The Argus:

The alleged murder weapon

Mr Wainwright QC said: “Nicola Stevenson took the hammer out and threatened you with it. Your response was to take it and strike her to the head several times.”

“No,” Mr Parish again replied.

Mr Wainwright QC suggested Richard Canlin grabbed the hammer and tried to stop Mr Parish.

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“When it was clear you had killed her, you then disposed of the body,” Mr Wainwright said.

“You were threatening Richard Canlin that he would be in trouble if he reported it.”

Mr Parish said: “No, sir.”

Canlin, of no fixed address, is accused of murdering Nicola and dumping her body in a wheelie bin off the Landport estate in Lewes, then bought himself goods with her money.

The Argus:

Richard Canlin is accused of murder

Police bodyworn camera footage showed the moment he was arrested while living in Nicola’s flat in November. o

Canlin could be heard saying to police: “You having a laugh? I ain’t killed nobody.

“This is ridiculous, I’ve not killed nobody. Nicola went away for a few months.”

The court heard Mr Canlin told police in the back of their car: “I’ve got a mental age of six.

“John Parish, he has more to do with it. This is stupid.”

Canlin denies murder, the trial continues.

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