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Witness: injuries caused by

PUBLISHED: 08:00 31 October 2008 | UPDATED: 07:45 01 August 2010

AN EXPERT witness has told a murder trial that a 35-year-old woman's fatal head injuries were more consistent with her head being run over by a wheel of her fiancé's Land Rover Discovery than being caused by her falling from the vehicle while it was moving.

AN EXPERT witness has told a murder trial that a 35-year-old woman's fatal head injuries were more consistent with her head being run over by a wheel of her fiancé's Land Rover Discovery than being caused by her falling from the vehicle while it was moving.

Stephen Henderson, a specialist in accident investigation and reconstruction, said that in his opinion Deborah Townsend's massive head injuries were caused by a “crushing” injury and were not consistent with her falling or jumping from a moving vehicle.

He said that after reading the results of a post-mortem examination carried out on Ms Townsend, examining her boyfriend Christopher Caunter's Land Rover Discovery and looking at other evidence in the case, he had come to the conclusion that her head had gone under the rear passenger wheel of the car while it was being reversed.

He said that because of the lack of abrasions and bruises on Ms Townsend's body he did not think it was likely that she had jumped or fallen out of the Discovery on to the road surface while the vehicle was moving.

Mr Henderson was giving evidence during the third week of the re-trial of 36-year-old Christopher Caunter, of Hullbridge, Essex, who has denied murdering Ms Townsend in July 2005.

It has been alleged that Caunter drove over her head on the A146 at Beccles during an argument and had then left her body in his abandoned Discovery at a beauty spot in Essex before fleeing to Thailand where he stayed until he was extradited back to the UK in 2007.

Also before the court are his brother Robert Caunter, 39, of Barking, and best friend Joseph Brown, 39, of Romford, who have denied helping Caunter after Ms Townsend's death.

Caunter has claimed that Ms Townsend jumped out of the Discovery during an argument.

Earlier in the trial prosecution witness Ian Osakwe told of an incident in which Caunter “rammed” a fire extinguisher down on his hand and placed a saucepan under his ankle and jumped on it.

Mr Osakwe told the jury that he was held captive for two days by five men, including Caunter, in April 2000 after he stole around £20,000 while working for one of the men.

The court heard he was taken to a house in the London area and questioned about the missing money. He described being punched and kicked but over the course of the next two days the violence escalated and included him being hit around the head and left knee with a hammer and being burnt on his left hand and left leg with a knife that had been heated on a gas stove.

Mr Osakwe said that he was afraid he would be killed by the men: “I feared for my life, I thought I would die.”

The jury was due to visit the site of the incident on Beccles bypass yesterday.

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