CONSERVATIVE councillor Gerry White was brutally murdered when a charity trustee sliced him with a chainsaw and strangled him, a court heard today.

Mr White, 73, became embroiled in a 'festering dispute' over money with Jonathan Stasiuk, 60.

The relationship between them turned sour as the pair waged war over fees as low as £25.

They were trustees of a communal garden charity and a jury heard Stasiuk 'harboured a growing sense of grievance' which led to an 'entrenched hatred' for Mr White, a pub landlord.

In the days before Mr White's death on May 27, Stasiuk allegedly messaged friends saying 'tomorrow I go to war' and referenced using a chainsaw on him.

A court today heard at around 4.30pm at Lake Community Gardens, the pair had a confrontation and Stasiuk armed himself with a chainsaw.

After attacking him with the chainsaw, Stasiuk 'strangled and smothered' Mr White, screaming at him to die.

Minutes later he confessed to 'murdering' Mr White to a 999 operator.

Southampton Crown Court today heard Stasiuk, a chef by trade who worked at Mr White's pubs, looked after the land on the 16-acre gardens.

Matthew Jewell QC, prosecuting, said Stasiuk had a list of complaints against Mr White including 'dishonestly' donating £3,000 to the gardens from the Rotary Club he was a member of.

Mr Jewell QC said: "Stasiuk harboured a growing sense of grievance and formed a strong belief in his position.

"The company was to be charged £200 rent per month and their relationship began to go sour in the early months of this year for a number of reasons.

"There was an accusation made against Stasiuk's partner, Marianne Willment, about £25 transport costs owed to her.

"There was a dispute about logs being delivered to Mr White's pubs that were apparently damp, there was an issue about plants and Mr White handed keys to someone who Stasiuk didn't think should have them.

"Rubbish appeared on the site and it appeared to Stasiuk that Mr White was using it as some kind of dumping ground.

"There was a donation of £3,000 made to the company by the Rotary Club, which Mr White was a member of, and Stasiuk formed the belief that Mr White had acted dishonestly."

It was heard Mr White was later made to repay the £3,000 to the Rotary Club, which had been donated to pay for roof repairs which Stasiuk said had only cost £1,300.

On May 27, Stasiuk and his partner had been drinking with friends throughout the day before Mr White arrived at 4.20pm.

Within minutes, the court heard, he was dead.

Mr Jewell QC said: "Stasiuk made a phone call to police on 999, he told the operator 'I've just murdered someone'.

"He told police where to find his body and said the murder happened 20 minutes earlier.

"He gave a full account over six interviews and told police officers he attacked Mr White with a chainsaw and then by strangling and smothering him until he believed he was dead.

"Stasiuk explained it was the result of a growing and festering dispute that led to his actions.

"None of these grievances justify what Stasiuk did.

"He started the chainsaw and used it to cut his leg and then it stopped as it had no petrol and then, he says, he lost the plot."

He started squeezing his neck.

Jurors were told Stasiuk denies murder but admits manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility. A doctor has since diagnosed him with autism.

Mr White was the landlord at the Stag Inn and had sat on Isle of Wight Council and Lake Parish Council.

He left behind his wife of 25 years, Lee, and children and grandchildren.

The trial continues tomorrow.