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'Victim strangled for a few minutes'

PUBLISHED: 09:43 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:42 03 July 2010

COURT worker Claire Roberts died after being strangled for up to five minutes, a jury heard.

Giving evidence at the third day of the murder trial of Paul Hubbard, a forensic pathologist said Miss Roberts suffered 15 bruises to her neck and five elsewhere on her body - injuries consistent with strangulation.

COURT worker Claire Roberts died after being strangled for up to five minutes, a jury heard.

Giving evidence at the third day of the murder trial of Paul Hubbard, a forensic pathologist said Miss Roberts suffered 15 bruises to her neck and five elsewhere on her body - injuries consistent with strangulation.

Hubbard, 39, denies killing the 28-year-old at the flat they shared in John Stephenson Court, Norwich, on May 5 last year.

The trial, being held at Cambridge Crown Court because Miss Roberts, originally from Great Yarmouth, worked for Her Majesty's Court Services in Norwich as a court official, heard from Dr Benjamin Swift, a consultant forensic pathologist who carried out the post- mortem examination the day after she was discovered at the flat.

He said: “There were 15 separate recent bruises around her neck and five other bruises around her body.

“There was bleeding within the structures of the neck which indicates blunt force pressure to both sides which may apply through manual strangulation.

“It's more likely that hands were placed around her neck rather than through a headlock.

“It takes a period of minutes to die - four or five minutes at least.”

The jury has previously heard that Hubbard left Miss Roberts' body in the flat for six days after she died, continuing to live there, watching films and picking out betting tips from newspapers.

Her body was eventually found when her parents grew concerned and went to the flat with police.

The court also heard from the police officer who found the decaying body, PC Garry Knevitt, who had to climb a ladder to get into the first-floor flat.

PC Knevitt, based at Thorpe Hamlet police station, said: “There was a strong odour and a dampness in the air - like a damp, rotting dishcloth. I saw that there was a mound in the centre of the lounge.

“I pulled back three or four blankets and revealed the arm of a person. Her hand was black and there was no pulse.

“There was some sort of perfumed powder over her.”

Hubbard, who it is alleged had used Shake-and-Vac powder to cover up the smell of Miss Roberts' decaying body, was arrested at the scene after PC Knevitt and colleagues found him hiding in the bedroom, the court has heard.

Prosecuting barrister Karim Khalil also drew the jury to the attention of a Liverpool Football Club small enamel pin badge that was found bundled up within the layer of blankets covering Miss Roberts.

He said Hubbard was known to have worn the badge, a point made by several witnesses.

The trial also heard the transcript of interviews held between the police and Hubbard at Bethel Street police station following his arrest.

Prosecuting barrister Charles Myatt and Det Sgt Martin Clabon read the transcripts between officers and Hubbard of his claims of innocence.

Hubbard is to be called to the witness stand tomorrow.

The trial continues.


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