A MAN accused of killing his parents for a £230,000 inheritance said today he was on a drugs run for organised crime gangs on the day of their murders.
Stephen Seddon, 46, told a jury that he drove from his home in Seaham to Carrington, near Manchester, to deliver a holdall of drugs in return for ash.
The father-of-three maintained he returned straight home and did not visit parents Bob, 68, and Patricia, 65, on July 4 last year, Manchester Crown Court heard.
The Crown says Seddon shot them dead at close range with a sawn-off shotgun at their address in Sale, Greater Manchester, after he failed in a previous attempt to kill them four months earlier when he drove into a canal with them aboard.
Giving evidence today, Seddon denied murdering or attempting to murder them and repeatedly said he would “never hurt them”.
He said last summer’s trip to the North West was to deliver the bag from an organised crime group in Darlington to a counterpart group in Manchester and it was the econd such job he had done after a previous run on May 30.
Questioned by his barrister, Alan Hedworth QC, Seddon said: “I never looked in the carrier bag. It was quite obvious what it was...drugs.
“It was dropped at my house.”
He met two people in Manchester on July 4 and picked up a bag of money in return which was later collected the same day from the back of his street, he said.
Mr Hedworth asked: “On that day did you go any further than that?
“No,” replied Seddon.
“Did you have anything to do with the murder of your parents?” his barrister continued.
Seddon said: “Absolutely not.”
The defendant said it never crossed his mind he would financially benefit from their deaths.
When arrested and interviewed under caution, the jury was told that Seddon chose not to answer “a lot of questions” and that he made no reference to the drugs run.
Seddon explained: “Operating in that league with those people, you don’t mention names. It could get you killed.”
The jury was told about the defendant’s previous convictions which dated back to when he was aged 13 and appearing before youth courts for offences of burglary, handling and theft.
Further convictions followed as an adult for taking vehicles without consent and he was jailed at Bolton Crown Court in 1989 for a series of offences including obtaining goods by deception, theft and making off without payment.
In 2000 he pleaded guilty at Teeside Crown Court to fraudulent trading involving his company that advised on European Union grants.
It was said his then firm had an annual turnover of £5million and he had £2million in his bank account.
Seddon agreed it enabled him to fund a luxury lifestyle which included buying a Porsche 911 Carrera, an Audi convertible and a Bentley Turbo, which was chauffeur-driven.
His conviction for fraud though led to his lifestyle “crumbling down”, he said.
Living with wife Nicola, in her home town of Seaham, he went on to have a string of sales jobs in the motoring trade and CCTV security but had been unemployed since late 2011 and was financially dependent on his parents.
Asked about the alleged staged canal crash on March 20 last year, he said he had visited his parents to give a “belated Mother’s Day present to my mother”.
He said Mrs Seddon wanted to have a meal at a Beefeater restaurant at Altrincham Golf Course and he decided to take a short cut along Canal Road, Timperley.
Mr Hedworth asked him what he could recall of the journey.
Seddon said: “To my knowledge I was going down the hill and towards the bridge, and I saw headlights coming towards me.
“I think I moved to the left and before I know it the next thing is I’m in the canal.
“We hit something. It felt like a big bang. I didn’t know whether that was a kerbside or a brick, I don’t know.”
He said he also remembered suffering a sharp chest pain and believing that he may have been suffering from a panic attack.
His dad screamed “we are in the water” and everyone in the car including his nephew, Daniel, “were going berserk”, he said.
He could not get his seatbelt off and had to use a camping-style knife from the side compartment of his hired BMW car to cut it.
Seddon said he was the first out of the vehicle when he used a crook lock to smash open a window.
He helped free Mr Seddon and his nephew before firefighters arrived and rescued his mother.
Mr Hedworth asked him: “The driving of that car into the canal...was that a deliberate act?
“No,” the defendant said.
“Did you desire to kill your parents?” Mr Hedworth said.
“No, I would never hurt my parents.
Seddon, of Benavente Street, denies two counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder,
Beginning his cross-examination, Peter Wright QC, said to Seddon: “The fact is you are a fraud, aren’t you?
Seddon replied: “In what respect? I have been convicted before.”
Mr Wright continued: “What I mean is that you have lived your life by acting dishonestly when it suited you to. Is that right?”
“Yes,” said the defendant.
Seddon went on to agree that his offences dealt with at Bolton Crown were for “wholesale dishonesty” and his conviction at Teeside Crown Court was for fraudulent trading “on a grand scale”.
The fraud offences led to him living “the high life”, said Seddon – but he denied he lived beyond his means.
He also denied living beyond his means when his parents gave him cash in later years.
“If I got the money I spent it, that is not living beyond your means,” he said. “It is living up to your means.”
Mr Wright said: “What you were doing was spending your inheritance in advance of your parents dying.”
Seddon said: “I was not expecting them to die.”
Mr Wright countered: “I am going to suggest that not only were you expecting them to die but you caused their deaths.”
“No,” said Seddon.
“Having failed to achieve that in March you set about doing it by different means,” said the prosecutor.
“No,” he repeated.
Seddon agreed that no-one forced him to become involved in the criminal activity of involving himself with drug dealers and being paid for it.
“You are a man who is, I suggest, driven by two things – money and self interest.,” said Mr Wright. “You are a most dishonest opportunist.”
“No,” said Seddon.
“What you have sought in this case is to embroider a tale,” continued Mr Wright.
“A tale around your criminal activity to conceal precisely what you were up to on July 4.”
Seddon denied that was the case.
Mr Wright went on: “I suggest you are a complete hypocrite.
“’I want to help to catch the bastards who have done this to my parents’ is what you said to the police when you were being dealt with at the custody sergeant’s desk.
“You then chose not to answer a lot of questions. A lot of questions concerning matters surrounding your parents’ deaths.”
“No,” said Seddon.
Seddon was then accused of laying a false trail by staging the murders to make it look as if his father had shot his mother before killing himself.
Mr Wright said that no assassin would need to stage a false suicide if they were carrying out a gangland execution.
“The only reason would be to take attention away from the person responsible,” he suggested.
“Has any such organised crime gangs informed you that they did it in order to frame you?” he asked the defendant.
“No, no-one has spoken to me about that,” said Seddon.
“So it remains a mystery,” said Mr Wright, “as to why it was staged in that way.”
Seddon replied: “I can’t give you an answer to that.”
Mr Wright said: “I am going to suggest that you did it.”
“No,” said the defendant. “It was not. I have never hurt my parents.”
Part of the defendant’s evidence was heard in private, but in front of the jury, after an application was made to the court under Criminal Procedure Rules 2012.
Seddon will continue to give evidence tomorrow morning.