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"Freaked out" suspect stuffed body in boot

PUBLISHED: 09:33 11 November 2008 | UPDATED: 07:45 01 August 2010

A BUILDING boss accused of murdering his girlfriend by driving over her head in Beccles told jurors he stuffed her body in the car boot because he was too "freaked out" to keep it in the seat next to him.

A BUILDING boss accused of murdering his girlfriend by driving over her head in Beccles told jurors he stuffed her body in the car boot because he was too “freaked out” to keep it in the seat next to him.

Christopher Caunter, who denies murder, told how the couple had rowed at the Norfolk Arms in Lowestoft on the night his finance Deborah Townsend died.

Caunter, 36, said that he drove the pair, who had drunk “heavily” that evening, along the A146 towards Norwich in the rented Land Rover.

“We were arguing in the car... She opened that door, she jumped out of that car,” he said.

When asked what he did next, Caunter replied: “I drove on.”

He told jurors as Ipswich Crown Court: “I didn't dream that she would die from that.”

Caunter said he was unable to remember how far he went before returning to the scene, or how he did so.

“I could have reversed back, I could have u-turned,” he said. “To me it was an accident. I didn't think I had gone over her, not at that point.”

Caunter said he told Miss Townsend to get up but realised she was unable to, so he lifted her up and put her in the passenger seat.

When asked by his defence counsel David Etherington QC why he did not call an ambulance, Caunter said he had not realised the seriousness of her injuries, and that she was making “horrible” noises.

“There was so much blood it was horrible. I spoke to my brother and before I could make any arrangements she had died. I completely panicked, I went to pieces. I kept driving.”

Caunter told the court that he stopped in a layby after leaving the A146 to transfer her body to the boot.

“I couldn't handle having the body so close to me,” he said. “It was freaking me out. You're driving down the road and you've got your dead girlfriend next to you. It doesn't look too good.”

He added: “It was terrible what I did. I've got to live with that.”

Caunter told the court he used wet wipes to remove blood from the car, where he left it near Chelmsford.

The couple had fled their Bromley home that day, July 14, 2005, after finding out Caunter's building business headquarters was being raided by Inland Revenue officers.

Caunter, of South Avenue in Hullbridge, Essex, was arrested a year later in Thailand after clumps of Miss Townsend's hair and scalp were found in a Beccles layby.

Joseph Brown, from Midmay Road in Romford, and Robert Caunter, of Elore Road in Barking, both 39, deny assisting an offender.

The case continues.

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