ARTHUR BRUMHILL TRIAL: Two other Northampton pet shop workers had been taking money from the till at time of murder, court told

Arthur Brumhill was beaten to death in Paul Denton Pet and Garden Supplies in 1992. Yorkshire man Stuart Jenkins, a former employee of the shop, stands accused of the murder.
Arthur Brumhill was beaten to death in Paul Denton Pet and Garden Supplies in 1992. Yorkshire man Stuart Jenkins, a former employee of the shop, stands accused of the murder.

A trial in which a 76-year-old man was murdered in a "robbery" at the store has heard how two other members of staff were stealing money from the till.

Arthur Brumhill was murdered at the Paul Denton Pet and Garden Supplies store in Wellingborough Road on the night of January 21, 1992.

The prosecution case against the defendant, Stuart Jenkins, centres around an accusation then 17-year-old killed Mr Brumhill during a robbery that night, before covering the kind-hearted pensioner's body with straw.

Jenkins, who denies murder, had previously worked there on a short work placement.

But a trial jury at Northampton Crown Court today heard how two other staff members who were working at the pet store at the time of Mr Brumhill's death, Matthew Roke and Lee Middleton, admitted periodically taking money from the till.

On Thursday, defence barrister William Harbage QC, questioned Mr Roke in the witness stand.

He said: "You and Mr Middleton were stealing money from the till weren't you?.

Mr Roke answered: "Yes."

Mr Harbidge, added: "Lee Midleton was stealing from the till and he showed you how to do it didn't he?

Mr Roke answered: "Yes."

On the night of the murder, January 21, Mr Roke, said he did not return to the shop after leaving work that evening. He told the court how he went round to a friend's house two doors away and played "video games."

The following day, when police had set up a crime scene at the pet store following the discovery of the body, Mr Roke was asked to supply detectives with the clothing he was wearing the night before.

Mr Harbidge, asked: "The pair of jeans you gave them had been soaking overnight hadn't they?"

Mr Roke replied: "I could smell really bad sometimes (from working in a pet store). My mum didn't love the smell so she would normally put my clothes into soak."

Shortly before Mr Brumhill was beaten to death, the 76-year-old had been in charge of the store for a week while owners Paul and Norma Denton holidayed in Portugal.

Yesterday the court heard how the till was £80 short that week, though, when questioned on the discrepancy, Mr Roke said he and Mr Middleton had not started taking small amounts from the till until after Mr Brumhill died.

Mr Roke also admitted taking some money from a "green cash bag" that had been "stored at the bottom of the stairs."

But he said he could not remember if Mr Brumhill had ever raised the matter with him.

Mr Roke further said he was saddened by Mr Brumhill's death, describing him as "like a grandfather to me."

When prosecutor James House QC asked Mr Roke whether he was involved in Mr Brumhill's murder, Mr Roke answered, "no I wasn't."

The trial continues.