Housemate accused of murdering Dagenham dad Neill Buchel: ‘This is my worst nightmare’

Neill Buchel's body was found in White Hart Lakes, Eastbrookend Country Park, in April. Picture: Ell

Neill Buchel's body was found in White Hart Lakes, Eastbrookend Country Park, in April. Picture: Ellie Hoskins - Credit: Archant

One of the men accused of murdering Neill Buchel had been planning to go away on safari with him.

Neill Buchel with his family

Neill Buchel with his family - Credit: Archant

Scott Hunt, 42 today, told Blackfriars Crown Court the pair had talked about going out to work in a safari park in Dunedin, New Zealand, with Buchel’s father.

In an emotional plea, he spoke fondly of his final weeks with his housemate and drinking buddy.

“I loved Neill. The three months before his death were some of the best of my life,” said Hunt.

“We were going to go to Dunedin. His dad’s got a safari park out there. I’ve always loved animals and would have loved to work there.

“I thought the world of Neill. We helped get each other out of our depressions.

“To be charged with his murder is absolutely abhorrent and would never have happened.

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“If I had been there this wouldn’t have happened because I would have protected him.

“It’s my worst nightmare coming true. Getting accused of it, my whole world fell apart.

“I would never, ever, do that to Neill. Never.”

Hunt had been drinking in a nearby park with Buchel and a group that included co-accused Chas Quye, 36, of Stansgate Road, Dagenham, and Elvis Kwiatowski, 36, of Clopton Close, Royston, on the day Buchel died, the court heard.

He was allegedly involved in an altercation with three youths and arrested at about 3pm for being drunk and disorderly.

Upon release from Dagenham police station, he took out £20 from a cash point on his way to Quye’s house, where he was going to borrow a further £10 to buy three bags of heroin – just under a gram’s worth.

When he arrived he saw Buchel on the floor, “absolutely mullered” with four empty vodka bottles on the table beside him.

“We’d been drinking together for a long time but I’d never seen him like that,” he explained.

“He couldn’t even open his eyes, he was that gone.

“Elvis [Kwiatowski] said: ‘Why didn’t you help him? You just left him,’ and gave him a couple of digs.

“I said: ‘Come on Neill – let’s go.’

“I tried lifting him up but I couldn’t so in the end I just left him.”

After buying his heroin from a man described in court as “Unknown Mark”, Hunt says he went home, smoked his heroin and fell asleep on the settee watching Sky.

Although concerned about his friend’s subsequent disappearance, Hunt says he only found about the death when his leg was discovered in the White Hart Lake in The Chase, on April 1.

When questioned by police on March 20, he admitted lying to officers, saying he had woken up in a cell the following morning and last seen Buchel in the park at 3.30pm the previous day.

“I was being evasive because something had happened but I didn’t know what and I didn’t want to land anyone in it,” he told the court.

“I was thinking something bad must have happened, but not that he was dead.

“I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere. He’d come back and that would be the end of it.

“It wasn’t unusual for Neill to stay out for a day or two, or even three. He’d go where the beers were.”

The trial continues.