The man on trial accused of murdering a teenager appeared calm and “like nothing had happened” just hours after her burning body was discovered outside the hotel he lived and worked in, a jury heard.
Just two hours after a bundle of material – containing Sasha Marsden’s body – was seen on fire in the alleyway behind the Grafton House Hotel, David Minto was cleaning the bar area of the premises and talking about the delayed release of a popular video game.
His girlfriend at the time, Rachel Butterworth, told Preston Crown Court he “just seemed like David”.
Miss Butterworth, who was the manager of the Grafton House Hotel on Kirkby Road, South Shore, said Minto had told her he had suffered a nose bleed, which she had offered to clean from the carpet.
But she said she didn’t recognise jewellery – a tear-shaped pendant and a green studded earring – which police discovered in the toilet bowl, or the back of an earring in the bath.
Hair was also found around the hotel, which Miss Butterworth said had not been there when she had cleaned before leaving for work on January 31.
Later that day, a neighbour noticed a fire in the alley, and helped to put it out using a bucket of water.
Shaun Randall was visiting his girlfriend at the Brooklyn Hotel, on Kirkby Road, when he noticed an orange glow and smoke coming from the back.
When he went to investigate with the bucket of water, he saw Minto, 22, on his mobile phone in the back doorway of his hotel.
He said: “He asked me what was going on, and I told him it was a mannequin on fire.”
Mr Randall said Minto later asked him “since when does a mannequin bleed?”.
At around 9pm that night, Minto, Mr Randall and the owner of the Brooklyn Hotel, went to investigate the “mannequin” and realised it was the body of 16-year-old Sasha – a college student from Staining.
Mr Randall said Minto “was fine” when he invited the group into his hotel. He added: “He was like nothing had happened.”