Gareth Dack accused of making up his story in Norma Bell murder case

Gareth Dack
Gareth Dack

A man charged with murdering a 79-year-old woman was accused of making up his story to fit the case against him.

Under cross-examination from prosecutor Christopher Tehrani QC, Gareth Dack said he had become ‘confused’ about his visits to Norma Bell during the weekend of her death.

Norma Bell

Norma Bell

Dack told the jury at Teesside Crown Court he had visited Mrs Bell on Saturday evening to repay £10.

During that visit, at Mrs Bell’s request he had ‘manipulated’ barbed wire in her back yard which had been obstructing the gate.

Mr Tehrani put it to Dack he had said in his defence statement last July he had repaired the barbed wire during a visit on Friday.

“Why did you say Friday in the defence statement when you are now saying Saturday?” Mr Tehrani asked Dack.

“Is it because you are making up your story to fit the prosecution facts?

“Have you forgotten your script?”

Dack replied: “I am getting confused, you are jumping backwards and forwards in time and jumping back again.

“I didn’t get confused when my barrister was asking me the questions because he went slowly and in order.

“I was there both nights.”

Dack said he had not ‘repaired’ the barbed wire as he had said in his defence statement, but had only moved it out of the way of the gate.

The court heard previously Dack’s DNA may have been on some of Mrs Bell’s underwear.

Dack said he moved a pile of washing to reach a tool tray to do the job on the barbed wire.

A footprint linked to a pair of trainers owned by Dack was found on top of Mrs Bell’s wheelie bin.

Dack said he had used the bin to reach the barbed wire, and had not used Mrs Bell’s stepladder because ‘it wasn’t worth getting the ladders out for such a simple job”.

The court heard a resident of Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, where Mrs Bell lived saw him visit her the previous Tuesday.

Dack said the neighbour was mistaken.

Mr Tehrani put it to Dack he was a cocaine addict who had spent all his money on drugs.

“I am not an addict,” he replied. “I use cocaine one or twice a week when things get on top of me.”

Dack, 33, of Windemere Road, Hartlepool, denies murder, and he denies arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.

The case continues.