David Roustaby goes on trial accused of murdering York neighbour David Clarke

A MAN who has gone on trial accused of killing his neighbour “was for 13 years quite certain he had got away with murder”, prosecutors claim.

Twice the jury heard a recording of David Roustaby telling two friends he had strangled his York neighbour David Clarke, 43, with a tie after plying him with alcohol and diazepam and dumping him in the River Foss near Towthorpe in 2007.

Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, said a retired doctor found Mr Clarke’s body in “this quiet corner of North Yorkshire” half submerged on the morning of April 18, 2007, and that a coroner recorded a open verdict on the death.

Roustaby is expected to tell the jury he was fantasising when he was speaking to his friends in August 2019 and that he didn’t kill Mr Clarke, the jury heard.

Mr Wright alleged evidence on the body and the circumstances surrounding the death show that Roustaby was telling the truth in the recording.

“There is no issue this is him (Roustaby, on the video) and that he did say this. That is accepted,” said Mr Wright at Leeds Crown Court about the recording.

“Roustaby admitted in clear terms that he had murdered Mr Clarke… and for 13 years was quite certain that he had got away with murder.”

Roustaby, now 43, of Rawcliffe Lane, York, denies murder. In 2007 both men lived in the same building of bed-sits in Huntington Road, York, 4.6 miles from where Mr Clarke’s body was found.

Mr Wright alleged that some months before the death, Roustaby had been arrested after Mr Clarke told police Roustaby had threatened him and discharged a gun in his presence. Roustaby was not prosecuted.

The jury heard Roustaby say in the recording: “I did have a gun. I put it to his …. head and threatened to blow his …. head off.”

Mr Wright said Roustaby had told police in 2007 the two men had spent the evening before Mr Clarke’s body was found drinking in Roustaby’s flat.

In the recording he said the gun incident and his very poor alibi gave police enough evidence to arrest him on suspicion of murder, but they didn’t.

Towards the end of the recording he said: “It is the worst thing I have done in my life.”

Mr Wright alleged Mr Clarke was a “strong swimmer” and the river was so shallow part of Mr Clarke’s head was above the water.

Post mortem evidence showed he could have been strangled or drowned or a combination of both.

In the recording, Roustaby said he had taken Mr Clarke’s body from his flat to the river in his then girlfriend’s car. Mr Wright alleged the girlfriend told police shortly after the body was found her car had been stolen. It was found burnt out in Water End.

The trial continues.

York Press | News