Sasha’s parents came face-to-face with ‘killer’

Police scene of crime officers outside the Grafton House Hotel. Below: Sasha in a picture from her Facebook page.
Police scene of crime officers outside the Grafton House Hotel. Below: Sasha in a picture from her Facebook page.
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The parents of tragic Blackpool student Sasha Marsden met the man accused of murdering their daughter – just moments after he had allegedly set fire to her body, a jury was told.

Prosecutors said David Minto, 22, sexually assaulted 16-year-old Sasha before stabbing her in the head and neck with a kitchen knife.

Sasha in a picture from her Facebook page.

Sasha in a picture from her Facebook page.

He then assaulted her again.

Preston Crown Court heard Minto, the caretaker and barman at the Grafton House Hotel in Kirby Road, South Shore, then allegedly wrapped Sasha’s body in a bin bag, carpet and underlay 
before setting her alight.

Prosecutors said Minto, who lived at the hotel with his girlfriend and daughter of the owner of the hotel, had contacted the teenager on Facebook, after a chance meeting in Blackpool.

Peter Wright said: “Sasha lived in Staining and had got a lift to the hotel from her father. She was lured to the hotel on the pretext she would be working as a cleaner.”

But Sasha’s parents started to worry after they were unable to reach her on January 31, this year.

It was so out of character for the former Collegiate High School pupil not to be able to be called, her boyfriend Danny Taylor, went on to her Facebook profile to find out the contact details for the hotel, prosecutors said.

The court heard it was then her parents Jane and Gary jumped in the car with Mr Taylor and went to the hotel in search of their daughter.

Prosecutors said Sasha’s concerned mother went face-to-face with Minto at 8.30pm and asked him if he had seen her.

The computer game addict allegedly told her Sasha – a student at the Blackpool and The Fylde College – had left hours earlier.

However, just prior to their visit, at 7.10pm, neighbour Martin Duxbury, spotted smoke and flames in the L-shaped alleyway that runs close to the Grafton House Hotel. He went outside with a bucket of water and doused the flames, unaware there was a body on fire, the court heard.

At 9pm another witness arrived and noticed what he thought to be a mannequin just as Sasha’s parents drove out of the street.

The jury, who were given a 3D tour around Minto’s living quarters, in the basement of the run down guest house, then heard Minto visited one of his neighbours to ask the question “Since when has a mannequin had blood on it?”

Prosecutors said Minto’s partner arrived home shortly after from her second job and was greeted by “strange behaviour”.

He told her he had suffered a nose bleed, which had stained the carpet and had forced him to bleach his white hoodie.

Mr Wright said: “When Rachel returned from work she found the defendant in the bar area.

“He was washing up. She was surprised to see him in the bar area as he was usually downstairs playing on his computer games.

“When she first arrived he told her not to start anything. He had a nose bleed when he was moving the tools from outside room 11.

“He had unusually cleaned the tables in the bar as she could see they were still wet.”

The court was told Minto had made a call to the fire service on the night of the murder asking how to switch off the fire alarm at the hotel.

Neighbours who spoke to Minto were told it had been triggered by the smoke and an open window.

Minto and his partner then joined their neighbours in the alleyway, where she became so concerned she called the police.

Mr Wright said: “The defendant was concerned about the return of his partner so he took a number of risks.

“He secreted Sasha’s clothes and personal effects in a nearby wheeliebin.”

(Proceeding)

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