MURDEROUS firestarters brutally beat a man to death in his own home with “numerous weapons” before setting the flat ablaze, a court heard.

When firefighters forced their way into the flat of 54-year-old Paul Gillett, in Station Road, Clacton, they discovered his lifeless body in the bath.

Seth Stollery, 48, and Freya Parker-Magowan, 44, are charged with his murder.

Christopher Paxton QC, prosecuting at Chelmsford Crown Court, told a jury the pair carried out the attack and started the blaze on Boxing Day last year.

“He was dead before the flames of the fire reached him,” he said.

“Having been brutally assaulted, those responsible started to set fire to his flat.

“Their efforts were determined, because the fire starters were said to have set fire to not just one part of the flat, but numerous parts of it.

“They had total disregard for the lives of those who lived in that small block of flats.

“Some of them had to be rescued by the fire service.

“Whether these acts were motivated by jealousy, loyalty or some other reason, we may never exactly know.

“Whatever the motivation, these defendants set out on a destructive path in all that they did in Mr Gillett’s flat.”

The victim suffered severe head and chest injuries caused by “a number of weapons”, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

The court heard Parker-Magowan and Stollery had been in a relationship and living on the streets in Clacton.

But by Christmas Day last year, Parker-Magowan was staying with Mr Gillett at his flat and the relationship had allegedly turned sexual.

“All three seemed to have had their own battles with drugs, whether cocaine or heroin,” said Mr Paxton.

“Miss Parker-Magowan was later to suggest in interview to police officers Mr Gillett would sometimes supply her with heroin and cocaine.

“Examination of available phone records show Mr Stollery called Miss Parker-Magowan numerous times on Christmas Day and sent text messages such as ‘Happy Christmas love, why you not with me?’ and ‘Been at church. Still here, where’s you? Xmas together, thought I’d wake up with you, said you wanted to be with me’.”

Mr Paxton gave an overview of some of the evidence the jury will hear across a trial which is expected to last four weeks.

This includes CCTV footage allegedly showing the two defendants entering and leaving the block of flats, accounts of neighbours who say they saw Parker-Magowan and Stollery in the building and forensic analysis of the clothing the defendants were wearing.

Both deny murder and arson with intent to endanger life and Parker-Magowan denies arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Stollery has admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

  • The trial continues.