Fiancee tells of search for Nicola West

THE fiancée of a woman whose body was dumped at Ipswich police station in the boot of a car has told how he spent the days after she vanished frantically searching for her.

THE fiancée of a woman whose body was dumped at Ipswich police station in the boot of a car has told how he spent the days after she vanished frantically searching for her.

James Gentleman had been in a relationship with Nicola West for around six years before she was found dead in February this year.

Robert McCarry, 36, of Vernon Street, Ipswich, and Paul Waters, 29, of Sandpiper Road, Ipswich are standing trial for her murder at Ipswich Crown Court.

Giving evidence at the trial where McCarry is also charged with two counts of rape and Waters with attempted rape, Mr Gentleman, who lived in Little Blakenham with Miss West, said their relationship had had 'ups and downs'.

He said Miss West had been a heavy drinker for much of the time he had known her, since they met in 2001 working at Topps Tiles in Ipswich.

Her drinking had got steadily worse from Christmas 2006 until her death in February this year.

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Answering questions from Andrew Shaw, prosecuting, Mr Gentleman said that he had last seen Miss West, 34, around 3pm on February 7, when she had left to meet a friend in a pub in Ipswich.

When she had not returned home two days later, and did not answer her phone, he called police to report her missing.

He spent the next two days desperately going from pub to pub and asking if anyone had seen her, and a barmaid at the Punch and Judy pub, Grafton Way, told him she had been in on Wednesday, February 2.

On February 11, she received a call from the police asking him to come to Ipswich police station, where he was told a body had been found at the station which matched the description of Miss West.

He also said that Miss West had a low sex drive due to suffering from depression, and that she was not interested in unusual sexual practices.

A post-mortem revealed the cause of Miss West's death as strangulation.

Derek Tremain, specialist photographic forensics consultant, told the court that a ring seized from McCarry could have caused the injuries to her face and neck.

The court also heard from a friend of McCarry who said he had seen him become violent on two occasions.

Garry Fox said around a year ago McCarry had attacked a stranger in the street after the man had hit one of McCarry's dogs, which was barking aggressively at him, with a shopping bag.

And on another occasion shortly afterwards McCarry had badly injured his left hand by a knife wound sustained during a late-night town centre brawl with a kebab shop worker.

He said: “There was something about his personality that made me want to keep my distance.”

The trial of McCarry and Waters continues.

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