‘Body on the beach’ retrial starts

The retrial of a man who was found guilty of murder last year, but later had his conviction quashed, has begun in the Royal Court.

Jamie Lee Warn being taken into the Royal Court by a prison officer in March 2019 (29483883)
Jamie Lee Warn being taken into the Royal Court by a prison officer in March 2019 (29483883)

Outlining the case against Jamie Lee Warn (56), who denies murder, Commissioner Sir William Bailhache, presiding, told the court ‘there is no secret this is a retrial’, but went on to say that he was a new judge, and that they were a new jury.

Mr Warn is accused of killing Zsuzsanna Besenyei and two counts of perverting the course of justice. The prosecution alleges that he murdered the 37-year-old, hid her body in the boot of her car for several days and later dumped it on the beach to make it appear that she had committed suicide.

Sir William told the jurors they must approach the trial with an open mind, only taking note of what was said in court and to ignore anything else they might have heard.

Commenting on earlier proceedings, Sir William told the jurors that although in March 2019 Mr Warn had been found guilty of murdering 37-year-old Zsuzsanna Besenyei and two counts of perverting the course of justice, ‘for good reason, which doesn’t concern you’, the Court of Appeal decided the conviction was ‘flawed and unfair’.

Crown Advocate Simon Thomas, prosecuting, told jurors Mr Warn ‘murdered a young lady he was having a secret sexual affair with. He hid her body in the boot of her car for a number of days, and then dumped her body on a beach on the north coast.’

Advocate Thomas told the court Warn later ‘drove her car into the sea at St Aubin’s Bay, abandoning it, in an attempt to create the impression, she had committed suicide. He then told a series of lies to the police to cover up what he had done.’

Warn ‘was quite literally trying to get away with murder,’ Advocate Thomas said.

The court was told Miss Besenyei, who was born in Hungary, moved to the Island in 2013, and found work in a local hotel. Mr Warn also worked there, and although they both later left their jobs they continued to keep in touch. At the time of her death Miss Besenyei was living at Maufant. Mr Warn, who was now a construction worker, was living with his son at Bellozanne. Despite being in a long-term relationship, as was evidenced by a string of text messages read out in court, Mr Warn was also having a relationship with Miss Besenyi.

The court was told that although Miss Besenyi had a full-time job she was often short of money and Mr Warn would help her out. When in May 2018, as text messages read out in court highlighted, she needed money for a haircut, Mr Warn promised to give her the cash. But he failed to deliver, and the texts between the two became more heated.

Miss Besenyi had taken ‘Liberation Week’ off work, the court was told, and had arranged a number of appointments. On the evening of Thursday 10 May, she agreed to meet Mr Warn at his home. Clips from various CCTV cameras which tracked Miss Besenyi driving her Ford Fiesta from Maufant to Bellozanne were shown to the court.

She left her home at around 6pm, arrived at Mr Warn’s at 6.30pm and was never seen alive again. It is thought a text was sent from her mobile phone at 7.30pm. At 8.20pm the prosecution claim CCTV footage from Checkers at First Tower shows Mr Warn buying hand sanitiser. Although the prosecution admit they do not know exactly how, where or when Miss Besenyi died, they allege it was during this 50-minute window that Mr Warn murdered her.

According to Advocate Thomas, material from cameras inside the underground car park at First Tower seem to show Miss Besenyei’s blue Ford Fiesta being parked just before 7am and Mr Warn getting out of the car. There is no sign of her.

It is claimed she was dead in the boot.

According to the prosecution, Mr Warn appears to be on his phone. It is claimed this ties in with a later search of his phone history which shows him trying to find out how to buy parking cards. It is then claimed that further CCTV footage, this time from inside the Checkers supermarket, shows him buying parking cards. A till receipt seems to back up this claim. Mr Warn does not own a car.

Later that day a hairdresser and a beautician tried to call Miss Besenyei after she had failed to turn up to appointments but got no reply. It is claimed this ‘switched’ the phone on, and means the phone could be tracked to Mr Warn’s flat.

The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.

With such a long trial and because of Covid-19 restrictions, in addition to the usual 12 jurors, two reserve jurors were also sworn in. Jurors were also told that if they felt they might have Covid symptoms, emergency procedures had been put in place to get them tested and have the results back within three hours.

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