Neill Buchel murder trial: ‘Dead man made up dumbbell attack to win back ex-wife – but I did push him through a cabinet’

Neill Buchel with his family

Neill Buchel with his family - Credit: Archant

One of the men accused of murdering Neill Buchel has admitted hitting him through a glass cabinet during a “punching competition”, three months before his death.

But Scott Hunt, 42, said Neill’s claims to police that Hunt had hit him with dumbbells were fabricated in an attempt to win back his estranged wife.

Speaking this morning on his birthday, Scott Hunt, of Braintree Road, Dagenham, told Blackfriars Crown Court the pair, along with Chas Quye, 36, also accused of murder, had been carrying out Jackass-style pranks at his home on December 12, 2013.

Among the videos described to the court included stabbing a screwdriver in Hunt’s leg, burning Buchel’s pubic hair and the dad-of-two inserting a spoon into his genital area, before things started turning violent.

“We were having a punching competition,” Hunt told the court.

“I let Neill hit me five times as hard as he could in the biceps, but I was standing against a wall. It was just something to do.

“Then it was my turn to hit him.

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“I punched him the arm but Neill wasn’t stood against the wall.

“I only punched him once – hard, in the bicep – and he just flew.

“His feet went up and his face went down and he went straight through the cabinet.

“At first I thought it was funny – I found it hilarious – but then I realised he wasn’t OK. He was out cold for about a minute.

“I thought it was Perspex – I didn’t know it was glass, and I wasn’t expecting him to go flying through it.

“That was the last time I hit Neill. It wasn’t funny from that moment.”

Buchel suffered cuts to his hand, face and ear and significant bruising.

Hunt, known to his pals as Gary, described himself to the court as being an “an alcoholic and drug taker” at the time.

He admitted between 2013 and 2014 he was on methadrone – “a heroin substitute” – about 20 years after he had first started taking heroin.

He also drank 12 cans a day of Carlsberg Export 5 per cent beer in addition to taking prescription medication for depression and anxiety.

Living in a private rental flat since 2004, paid for by Barking and Dagenham Council, he financed his habit through the £220 ESA he received every two weeks.

“The only time I would leave the house was to walk 50 yards to go the off-licence,” he said.

“Apart from that I’d stay in the house 24/7, apart from helping [family friend] Joyce.

“If it was a choice between getting chicken and chips or two beers, I’d get two beers.”

Shortly after the cabinet incident, Buchel made a statement to police claiming Hunt had attacked him with dumbbell weights and smashed an ashtray over his head – something Hunt denies.

He told the court Buchel had simply got the idea from a threat to his neighbour David Atkinson from the previous night, in a supposed bid to get back with his estranged wife Sharon.

Drunk late in the evening of December 11, Hunt and Quye got in to an argument with Atkinson over car insurance.

“I picked some dumbbell weights up and said: ‘I could hit you round the head with these,’ and pretended to, but I never touched him. If I had there’d have been trouble.

“Chas also picked up an ashtray and pretended to hit him.

“Dave started shaking so I said: ‘Dave, we’re messing about. If we were serious we’d have hit you by now,’ and we laughed.

“We were just drunk and being nasty – the three of us [including Buchel] had been drinking all day.”

A few days later, with Buchel in hospital, Hunt was arrested and accepted a caution for actual bodily harm.

But Hunt claims the allegations made against him were false.

“It’s not true,” he exclaimed. “The ashtray is still on my coffee table.

“Since being in this country it’s just been him, her [Sharon] and the girls, so he wanted her back.

“After all this he started saying things to Sharon like he’s having a bad time at mine, just to get sympathy and to get her to come back.”

Neill’s body was found in White Hart Lakes, off The Chase, Dagenham, in April last year. Hunt, Quye and Elvis Kwiatowski deny murder.

The trial continues.