Clive Porter murder case: Daniel Wisniewski ‘killed Grand Union Canal employee over ticket queue’
A retired police officer was murdered next to the Grand Union Canal by an enraged skipper who had seen him place a ticket on an unlicensed narrowboat, a court heard today.
Daniel Wisniewski, who lives on his own boat on the famous canal, is said to have carried out the ‘unprovoked’ attack on waterway worker Clive Porter after seeing him fine another man’s barge.
Jurors were told how the 46-year-old got angry and stormed off his own boat, the Captain Golden Heart, before photographing Mr. Porter.
Prosecutors allege Wisniewski then attacked the 63-year-old on the towpath near Aylesbury, Bucks, in April last year.
Mr Porter, who was patrolling the stretch of the 137 mile waterway off the Canal and River Trust, died at the scene after serious head injuries.
A court heard that Wisniewski was later found hiding in a ditch on a nearby plot of land owned by his partner.
When questioned by police, he claimed that he had tried to “rescue” Mr Porter from an attack by two men on the boat on which he had placed the ticket and that he was a “hero” who received a “medal of the queen’ deserved, jurors were told.
Wisniewski, of Wharf Road, Birmingham, denies a single charge of murder and is on trial in the Reading Crown Court.
Daniel Wisniewski, who lives on his own boat on the famous canal, is said to have launched the ‘unprovoked’ attack on waterway worker Clive Porter (pictured) after seeing him fine another man’s barge
Prosecutors allege Wisniewski attacked the 63-year-old on the towpath of the Grand Union Canal (pictured) near Aylesbury, Bucks, last April
Today, at the opening of the trial, Judge Judge Turner learned that Mr Porter, who had retired from the police force 10 years earlier, had taken the job because of his love of the outdoors.
The court heard that he would cycle up and down the towpath and input the boats’ data into an iPad that would check if they had permission to dock on the idyllic canal.
Prosecutor Alan Kent QC said: ‘His role as a former police officer made him ideally situated for the job he was doing.
‘Before retirement he was a community officer in Tring, Hertfordshire and found satisfaction in helping people.
“He was loved and respected, a calm, modest and non-aggressive man.”
The jury heard that when Mr Porter arrived at Broughton Lock at around 12.15pm on April 26, he saw a boat named Frosty Jack, whose iPad revealed that it was not licensed to dock on the canal.
He then gave the boat, which was tied up within sight of the narrowboat Wisniewski shared with his partner, an enforcement letter, provoking his attacker.
Mr Kent told the court: ‘The enforcement letter posted on the Frosty Jack had absolutely no business with this defendant, but he made it his business.
“For some reason the defendant seemed to disagree with the fact that an enforcement letter was being put on this other boat and started arguing with Mr. Porter about it.
“That argument quickly turned into physical assault by the defendant and led to Mr. Porter’s death.”
The investigation is calling on anyone with information to come forward. In the photo: forensic evidence was collected on site
“A camera recovered from Wisniewski’s boat was examined by investigators and in the deleted images section they found photos taken by Mr Porter’s defendant who placed the enforcement letter on the other boat.
“It was clear from that evidence that this defendant was interested in what Mr. Porter was doing moments before attacking him.
“The fact that the photos were found in the deleted section indicates that he had the foresight to remove these images.
“There was no reason for him to do that, but he did and he didn’t expect the police to find them, but they did.”
The court heard that after the attack, Mr Porter was found in a ditch next to the towpath, mostly submerged in water and the life jacket he usually wore had been blown up.
Paramedics managed to pull him out of the water and worked desperately to save the 63-year-old’s life. However, he was soon pronounced dead.
Mr Kent added: ‘It is quite clear that this defendant did not hang around shortly after Mr Porter’s murder, but fled the scene. He was finally arrested about 12 hours later, on Tuesday, April 27 at 12:30 p.m.
He was arrested after hiding under a caravan on a plot of land owned by his partner. He didn’t want to be found, he didn’t expect the police to find him, but they did.’
The jury was then shown a drone that flew through the scene, including photos allegedly attacking Mr Porter just moments before Wisniewski.
The Polish citizen, who sat in the dock listening to an interpreter during the proceedings, denies killing Mr Porter, claiming instead that he tried to save him after he was attacked by some men from the Frosty Jack.
Mr Kent said: ‘He claimed he was such a hero that he should get a medal from the Queen.
“There weren’t two men attacking Mr. Porter, it was Wisniewski.”
Jurors were also shown a series of emails sent by Wisniewski and his partner revealed a long-lasting anger towards those who worked on the channel, the jury was told.
Prosecutor Kent said: ‘On 27 November 2019, the Thames Valley Police investigation revealed that the defendant’s partner has purchased a plot of land near Model Row. That’s next to the canal.
Mr. Porter died on Monday, April 26, along the Grand Union Canal. In the photo: the scene after his death
“It was intended that she and the defendant would use the area, including the land, to repair and restore tour boats. They needed a trade permit for this.
“However, in early 2020, problems started to arise from flooding. That led to a series of emails from the defendant’s partner to the Canal Trust.
“It’s pretty obvious, even though the emails were in her name, he (Wisniewski) must have been a party to it.
She repeatedly complained about the condition of the canal, claiming it was terrible, neglected and not worth the money.
“She said some of the staff were incompetent. Because of the floods that happened in early 2020, she said the land could not be used and demanded compensation for the floods.”
The prosecutor continued: “They threatened legal action and sent a series of emails for six months. Permits are required to live on a boat. In January 2021 last year, the defendant paid the demurrage charges.
‘The defendant inquired about the withdrawal of his marketing authorisation. On Friday, April 23, he paid commercial fees. Three days later, the defendant killed Clive Porter,” said Mr Kent.
“We suggest that the emails in the background show the general frustration of the individuals. On April 26, the defendant took his frustration out on Clive Porter.’
The prosecution also took the jury through some witness statements from the day of the attack.
He said, “Philip Francis walked toward the canal path to the Frosty Jack.
“He said he saw a man checking the boat and taking something out of his bag and attaching it to the boat.
“The witness had already noticed the suspect’s boat and he saw a man standing in that brag with a camera.
Wisniewski, of Wharf Road, Birmingham, denies a single charge of murder. The trial, at Reading Crown Court (pictured) is expected to take three weeks
“The defendant said to Mr Francis something along the lines of ‘they should be purifying the water instead of doing that’, making it his business to see what Mr Porter was doing.
“He walked along the path past the suspect and sat in his car for a while. He saw no one else along the towpath.
“Zachary Tennyson was out walking his dog. He saw the suspect with his boat and Clive Porter was on the towpath.
“Zachary said the defendant seemed angry. He had a furrowed brow and a frowning face.
“He had headphones on, so didn’t hear, but saw the two men talking. The only other man he saw was a male jogger.
“Patricia Card was out with her grandson. As she and her grandson were walking down the towpath, she saw two men arguing. The shorter man said things like “I paid for this”.
“As far as she could see, he was getting more and more aggressive. The taller man remained calm.
“Later she saw the shorter man, who would be Wisniewski, and noticed that his hand appeared to be red.”
Wisniewski, of Wharf Road, Birmingham, denies a single charge of murder. The process is expected to take three weeks.
The hearing continues.