Director denies murder of girlfriend

A COMPANY director has denied murdering his girlfriend by deliberately driving over her head on a Suffolk road.

A COMPANY director has denied murdering his girlfriend by deliberately driving over her head on a Suffolk road.

Christopher Caunter told a jury that on the night in question he and his fiancée Deborah Townsend had both been drunk and had started arguing while they were in the Norfolk Arms pub in Lowestoft.

They had planned to spend the night in a nearby flat but when they couldn't get in they had abandoned their plans to stay in Lowestoft.

Giving evidence at his retrial at Ipswich Crown Court 36-year-old Caunter said he had got into his rented Land Rover Discovery and after “a few words” Ms Townsend had got into the front passenger sear of the car.

He said that he had started driving towards Norwich and he and Ms Townsend had continued arguing and swearing at each other during the journey.

He said there came a point on the A146 at Beccles when she had opened the car door and sworn at him before jumping out and he continued driving.

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He said looking back on what happened he accepted it was “terrible” that he didn't immediately stop. However at the time he was worried that someone had seen what had happened and had been reluctant for the police to get involved as he had been on the run following a raid by the Inland Revenue at his business premises the previous day.

Caunter said that shortly afterwards he had gone back to where Ms Townsend had jumped out of the car and had picked her up and put her in the front passenger seat of his car and went to pieces when he saw the state she was in.

He denied reversing the Land Rover over her head and said he had panicked when he realised she was dead. He moved the body to the boot of the car before meeting his brother in Redbridge before going to Newland Hall at Roxwell, near Chelmsford where he left Ms Townsend's body in his abandoned car.

He then fled to Thailand where he stayed until he was extradited back to the UK in 2007.

Caunter, 36, of Hullbridge, Essex has denied murdering mother-of-three Ms Townsend in July 2005. Also before the court are his brother Robert Caunter, 39, of Barking and Joseph Brown, 39, of Romford who have denied helping Christopher Caunter after Ms Townsend's death.

The trial continues today.