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Ipswich/Gran Canaria: Murder accused ‘acted as normal when he returned alone’, Sarah Shields’ father tells court

PUBLISHED: 12:09 21 February 2013 | UPDATED: 12:09 21 February 2013

Sarah Shields with parents Angela and David

Sarah Shields with parents Angela and David

Archant

SARAH Shields’ father has told a court how her allleged murderer acted normally when he returned from their holiday alone.

David Shields had arranged to pick his daughter and her boyfriend Chris Chittock up from Stansted Airport when the came back from Gran Canaria in July 2010.

Mr Shields, of Ipswich, told Las Palmas Provincial Court: “Chris told us in the car Sarah had met someone called Jason who was a maintenance chap she got friendly with and he had ended up spending most of his time going down for his meals alone or sitting on the veranda.

“He sat on the back seat of the car and acted normal.

“We saw him again a couple of days later when he visited us. He said he was worried about if we had heard from Sarah.”

Chittock, 38, denies murdering Miss Shields, whose naked body was found in the sea on July 7, 2010.

The 23-year-old, who lived with Chittock in Alnesbourn Crescent, Ipswich, had been badly beaten and strangled to death.

Mr Shields also told the court Chittock was due to start community service after returning from holiday for a domestic assault on his daughter a month earlier.

Police were called to the pair’s Ipswich home on June 5, 2010, around a month before they left for Spain.

Mr Shields said: “Sarah told us she hadn’t given Chris her full attention at a party and she got hit.

“I told her afterwards there was always a bed in our house but she told me it was a one-off thing and went back to Chris.”

Miss Shields’ family became worried about her when she did not return with Chittock. They reported her missing after realising the ring tone on her phone was no longer a foreign ring tone.

Her mum Angela, giving her evidence behind a screen so she did not have to see her daughter’s alleged killer, told the court the messages she received from Miss Shields’ mobile on and after July 7, 2010 were “different” to earlier texts.

Miss Shields’ body was discovered just after 7am on July 7 2010.

Angela said: “One I received on the afternoon of July 7 said she had finished with Chris.

“After July 7 I got another message saying she had met a man called Jason at the hotel. She described him as an electrician and said he was English.

“I honestly didn’t think she would do something like it. I knew it wasn’t her normal behaviour.

“The last message I received from Sarah’s phone was on Sunday July 10 the day Chris was flying home.

“It simply said: “I’m fine, the weather’s fine, couldn’t be better.”

Miss Shields’ best friend Sarah Clarke told the court Chittock had spent the night in a police cell over the June 2010 domestic incident.

She said: “Sarah told me Chittock had pushed her and she had knocked her head and the side of her leg on a radiator.

“I advised her not to go back to him but she insisted it wouldn’t happen again.

“When I found out they were going to Gran Canaria on holiday together I told Sarah I was scared that with alcohol Chris would get violent.”

The trial continues.

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