The generally peaceful town of Ipswich in Suffolk, England, witnessed a horrific crime when 22-year-old Joe Pooley went missing from the Kingsley Hotel. Although the police did everything possible to get him back safely, Joe’s body was located in the River Gipping about six days after the disappearance. Netflix’s ‘When Missing Turns to Murder: Joe Pooley’ chronicles the shocking incident and even details how law enforcement officers were able to bring Joe’s murderers to justice. Let’s delve into the details surrounding the crime and find out more, shall we?
How Did Joe Pooley Die?
Joe Pooley had quite a challenging childhood as he entered the foster care system in 2003 and was never adopted. Besides, after leaving the system as an adult, Joe was rendered homeless for quite some time until Suffolk County Council’s Adult Care Services helped him get back on his feet. While Joe was living in the Kingsley Hotel at the time of his death, reports mentioned that the people at the Adult Care Services helped him with his finances and daily lifestyle. Moreover, apart from being diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay, doctors suspected that Joe was living with ADHD or autism, which made it quite challenging for the 22-year-old to live on his own.
Nevertheless, people who knew Joe described him as being good of heart, and no one could imagine about the tragedy that was about to befall him. Joe Pooley was last seen leaving his room at the Kingsley Hotel in Ipswich on August 7, 2018. Although a few onlookers later mentioned that Joe was apparently spotted in the company of three other individuals, there was no concrete evidence to support the claim. However, when he failed to return to the hotel on time, people at the Suffolk County Council’s Adult Care Services called the police and informed them about the incident.
Once law enforcement officers took over the case, they organized several search parties and combed through the nearby areas looking for the missing man. Moreover, authorities even used additional investigative teams and sniffer dogs, but to no avail, as Joe was nowhere to be found. In fact, the 22-year-old remained missing for six days as authorities and local volunteers went through every inch of the town in an effort to get him back home safely.
Ultimately, on August 13, 2018, investigators received word about a set of human remains floating in the River Gipping. Once the remains were recovered, it did not take long for the police to identify the victim as Joe Pooler, and an initial medical investigation noticed bruises all over the victim’s body. However, those weren’t the cause of death, as an autopsy later mentioned that Joe’s assailants attacked him and held his head underwater until he drowned.
Who Killed Joe Pooley?
The initial investigation into Joe Pooley’s murder was pretty challenging as the authorities had no leads or suspects to follow. Moreover, since Joe had been in the foster system since 2003 and had no known family, it was impossible to get the opinion of someone who had known him for years. On top of it, the police also learned that the victim often took cannabis and associated with former criminals, which might have played a part in his homicide.
Through the investigation, the police learned that shortly before the homicide, Joe Pooley had befriended a person named Luke Greenland, who had a lengthy criminal record. Luke mostly got in trouble with the law for violent crimes, and reports mentioned that around the time of the murder, he was out on parole after being convicted of attacking a police officer with a bottle of prosecco. On top of it, authorities also realized how Joe was easily influenced by others around him, as he was arrested after throwing a stone through a woman’s window on Luke’s orders.
While looking into Luke’s connection to Joe’s murder, investigators learned how the victim had been in a sexual relationship with one Becki West-Davidson, just days before he went missing. Further investigation also revealed that Becki had talked about this relationship with someone called Sebastian Smith, who was threatening Joe over Facebook. Surprisingly Sebastian Smith turned out to be an alias of Luke Greenland, and it did not take long for authorities to realize that he and Becki had planned the murder in detail. On top of it, detectives also found out that Luke, aka Sebastian’s friend Sean Palmer was roped in to help with the homicide, and all three were arrested for their role in Joe’s death.
Where Are Sebastian Smith, Becki West-Davidson, and Sean Palmer Now?
When produced in court, Sebastian, Becki, and Sean insisted on their innocence and pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. However, the prosecution had enough evidence for a conviction, and once the jury found the trio guilty, they were each given a life sentence with a minimum of 17 years in 2021. Hence, with neither of them eligible for parole at the time of writing, Sebastian, Becki, and Sean currently remain behind bars in UK prisons. On the other hand, readers will be surprised to know that the authorities also held another 26-year-old woman on charges related to Joe’s murder. Yet, she was later acquitted of murder and manslaughter.