The man accused of helping to dispose of Blackpool teenager Paige Chivers’ body was secretly recorded saying she “deserved what she got.”
But, speaking from the witness box at Preston Crown Court, Gareth Dewhurst, 46, maintained he does not know what happened to the missing schoolgirl.
Paige, 15, has not been seen since August 2007 when she left her family home in Bispham following a row with her father.
During covert recordings taken from Gareth Dewhurst’s van, the handyman was heard saying Paige had been given a beating.
He said: “She deserved what she got.”
But when asked who had given Paige the beating he was referring to and when it had taken place, Dewhurst replied: “It’s just a form of Tourettes I have.”
Dewhurst, of Duncan Avenue, Bispham, said he had been shaken by Paige’s disappearance and had suffered mental health problems requiring medication and counselling.
But he said he had asked his friend and co-defendant Robert Ewing if he had attacked Paige and his friend had repeatedly denied involvement – saying he had put her on a bus to go into Blackpool.
Dewhurst, who previously worked as a window cleaner in the street Paige grew up in, said he had recognised the youngster when she had started visiting Ewing’s flat in the summer of 2007.
He knew she was 15 and had warned his friend against letting her in.
He said he had seen a photograph, shown to the jury, of Paige and another young woman with the word ‘SEX’ written on their stomachs with an arrow pointing down which appeared to have been taken in Ewing’s flat.
But he told the court: “I said don’t let it happen again. Don’t let her in the flat.
“It didn’t seem right.
“But he said he was looking after her, giving her food.
“I just said don’t let her in the flat again.”
Ewing, 60, of All Saints Road, Bispham, denies murder. Dewhurst denies assisting an offender and a sexual offence.
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