Fiance on trial for partner's murder

A COMPANY director murdered his girlfriend during an argument by deliberately knocking her over with his Land Rover Discovery on a Suffolk road and then reversing over her head, it has been alleged.

A COMPANY director murdered his girlfriend during an argument by deliberately knocking her over with his Land Rover Discovery on a Suffolk road and then reversing over her head, it has been alleged.

Mother-of-three Deborah Townsend got out of the vehicle “voluntarily or otherwise” and was then struck on the back of her legs by the front wheels, Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday.

The impact knocked her to the ground and fractured her ankles, leaving her unable to walk, said Karim Khalil QC, prosecuting.

Her fiancée, Christopher Caunter, 35, of Hullbridge, Essex, had then allegedly reversed the Discovery over her head causing “the most appalling injuries”.


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Mr Khalil said part of Ms Townsend's skull had cracked and “exploded”, leaving pieces behind on the road and causing her brain to spill out.

Having allegedly killed 35-year-old Ms Townsend, who was slightly built and only 5ft tall, Caunter, who is 6ft 7ins and weighed 18 to 19 stone, strapped her into the front passenger seat of the Discovery before driving to a secluded spot at Newland Hall in Roxwell, near Chelmsford.

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En route he telephoned his brother, Robert Caunter, and arranged to meet him. Having parked the Discovery in hedges in the grounds of Newland Hall, Christopher Caunter then set about cleaning blood off the outside of the vehicle, said Mr Khalil.

Ms Townsend's body was moved into the boot of the Discovery and covered with a towel and left there while Robert Caunter drove his brother to a friend's house in London.

Christopher Caunter had then purchased a car for cash before asking one of his employees, Michael Briggs, to drive him to the south coast where they caught a ferry to France. They had then driven to Paris, where Caunter boarded a flight to Thailand.

Mr Khalil told the court that Ms Townsend had died in July 2005 and Caunter had stayed in Thailand until earlier this year when he was arrested and extradited back to the UK.

Christoher Caunter has denied murdering Ms Townsend.

Also before the court are Robert Caunter, 38, and Michael Briggs, 40, both from Barking, and Joseph Brown, 38, from Romford.

Robert Caunter, Briggs and Brown have denied assisting Christopher Caunter by helping him dispose of Ms Townsend's body and clothes and by helping him flee abroad.

Briggs and Brown have also denied a further offence of assisting Caunter to flee from the UK and dispose of evidence in relation to alleged financial irregularities in Caunter's dealings with the Inland Revenue.

Mr Khalil told the court that, prior to the alleged killing, Christopher Caunter was the director of a labouring business which was being investigated by the authorities, which suspected he was “skimming money off the top and putting it in his pocket”.

On July 14, Caunter's London business premises were raided and he and Ms Townsend had fled to a flat in Lowestoft.

That evening the couple had a row and at 1am on July 15 they were seen walking back to the Land Rover.

“That was the last time they were seen together. Later that night Deborah Townsend was killed,” said Mr Khalil.

The trial continues.

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