‘Horrendous scream’ as uncle found murder victim’s body, jury told
The uncle of a woman allegedly murdered by a trusted friend cried out “I’ve found her” as he discovered the victim’s partially-submerged body, a court heard.
As searchers hunted desperately for any trace of 20-year-old Keeley Bunker, it was her uncle Jason Brown who discovered her face-down in a brook concealed by branches, jurors were told.
Stafford Crown Court heard how another member of the search party “heard the most horrendous scream or shout I’ve ever heard in my life”, as Mr Brown raised the alarm.
Wes Streete, also 20, of no fixed address, is on trial at Stafford Crown Court accused of raping and murdering his friend, Ms Bunker, after a night out, on September 19 2019.
He is alleged to have then concealed the body of Ms Bunker, who was 4ft 11 inches tall and weighed just six-and-a-half stone, in Wiggington Park, Tamworth.
Hours before discovering his niece’s body, Mr Brown chanced upon Streete, apparently helping with the search.
Streete pointed out to Ms Bunker’s uncle where he claimed to have parted ways with her after a night out in Birmingham, in the early hours of September 19, the court was told.
Jurors heard how he had told Mr Brown: “That’s where I left her – by that black car.
Mr Brown, who told the court he had a military background, had joined the search after getting home from work to hear Ms Bunker was missing.
On hearing Ms Bunker’s backpack had been discovered in the park, he got changed and grabbed a torch, to help in the failing light.
He said: “That (discovery) got alarm-bells ringing.”
As he searched near the north-western edge of the park, he bumped into a smaller group of searchers, including an off-duty police officer.
Between them, they scoured either side of the metre-wide stream that runs out from a tunnel, carrying the brook beneath nearby houses.
Jacob Hallam QC, prosecuting, asked Mr Brown: “Did there come a point when your attention was drawn to anything else?”
Mr Brown: “I was looking inside the tunnel to see where I could get in, and a red object caught my eye.”
“It was in the brook, the brook isn’t very wide, less than halfway across,” he added.
Mr Brown said he kept looking at the object by the light of his torch for what “felt like 10 minutes”, until eventually he could see what he was staring at.
“After a while, things started to become focused, your eyes get used to the darkness.
“There was hair.
“Then I saw an arm with a bracelet on, that’s when I knew what was in front of me.”
Asked in court how he reacted, Mr Brown replied: “I just started shouting ‘No!’
“I thought ‘I’ve found Keeley’.”
Dean Reynolds, an off-duty Nottinghamshire Police officer who knew the family, had joined the search.
He recalled hearing Mr Brown’s shout of alarm.
In a statement read to court, he said: “I then heard the most horrendous scream or shout I’ve ever heard in my life, it was Jason, Keeley’s uncle.
“I then heard him shout again what sounded like ‘I’ve found her’.
“I then immediately began running towards Jason’s location.”
Mr Reynolds went towards the far side of the brook where Mr Brown was.
“I went round to the other side of the stream where Jason had found the body, in it,” he said.
“I asked him to show me and he directed me to where I could see the head and arms of a female in the water.
“I asked Jason to move away while I check the female for a pulse.”
Mr Reynolds said rigor mortis had set in and, placing two fingers on the woman’s arm, he left them there 20 seconds but “felt no pulse”.
Prosecutors have told the jury Streete changed his account at least four times between his arrest and the trial.
In a court document, known as a defence case statement, provided by Streete just days before his trial, jurors heard he had since claimed Ms Bunker and he had consensual sex, during which he held her neck and “accidentally killed her”.
Streete is also accused of two other counts of rape, three counts of sexual assault and a charge of sexual activity with a child, against three other victims, said to have happened in previous years.
He denies any wrongdoing and the trial, expected to last three weeks, continues.