BY HOLLIE-RAE MERRICK
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
ALLEGED murderer Christopher Chittock will stand trial for killing his girlfriend in February next year, The Star has learnt.
The engineer, from Ravenswood, is accused of beating and strangling Sarah Shields to death after flying into a jealous rage during a holiday in Gran Canaria in July 2010.
He has been on remand in a Spanish prison for more than two years.
But Miss Sheilds’ family’s long wait for justice could soon be at an end after a date was confirmed for the 38-year-old’s trial.
Spanish authorities have set a date of February 18. It is not yet known whether the trial will take place in mainland Spain or Gran Canaria.
– July 11, 2010 - Chittock returns home from Gran Canaria alone. Sarah Shields is reported missing and police in both countries launch an investigation into her disappearance.
– July 13 - Chittock is arrested on suspicion of Sarah’s murder as well as perverting the course of justice.
– July 15 - Authorities confirm a body found off the coast of the Spanish island is that of Sarah. Chittock is charged with perverting the course of justice and is bailed for Sarah’s murder.
– July 16 - Chittock appears at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court where his lawyer states his client denies murder.
– September - Chittock appears at Westminster Magistrates’ Court where an application to extradite him to Spain is heard.
– September - He is extradited after a European Arrest Warrant is executed.
– June 2012 - Chittock appears in court in Spain where authorities are believed to have been granted a two-year custody extension.
– February 2013 – Trial expected to begin in Spanish courts
Miss Shields’s mother Angela said she hopes the trial will provide her with some form of closure – but knows it will not bring her beloved daughter back.
“It makes us feel that there is hopefully going to be some form of closure because we have waited for this for so long now.
“It does bring back a lot from when it first happened and there are mixed emotions because it is all going to come back up again – although we know it has to.
“We want justice for Sarah because is has gone on long enough now.
“It isn’t getting any easier for us and it won’t – we lost our daughter who we loved so much – but this will hopefully gives us some form of closure.”
Mrs Shields and her family are planning to be at the conclusion of the trial.
Prosecutors claim Miss Shields was beaten and strangled to death by Chittock before being dumped naked in the sea.
The 23-year-old’s family raised the alarm after she failed to return home to Ipswich after the two-week holiday on the Spanish island.
Chittock, an engineer at gas company BOC in Ipswich, allegedly sent his girlfriend’s family texts from her mobile claiming she was back in Britain after her break.
But her body was then washed up on Balito Beach, a popular tourist destination near Puerto Rico in the south west of Gran Canaria, sparking a murder investigation.
Chittock, who lived with his young girlfriend in Alnesbourn Crescent, was arrested and extradited back to Spain following the death in July 2010.
The prosecution claims that Chittock attacked Miss Shields after discovering that she had been in contact with a former boyfriend on Facebook.
Miss Shields’s older brother Paul Davis, known as Martin to his family, said: “All we know at the moment is the date but we are hoping to find out where exactly the trial is going to take place. We hope to get that confirmed in the next couple of weeks.
“The feelings we felt when it first happened have never gone away – it has been there ever since.
“I feel very nervous about it all. The result of the trial will never take away what has happened and personally I don’t think there will ever be closure.
“Even if Chittock is found guilty, there is no changing the fact that a lot of lives have been ruined.”