Murder accused appears in court

A MAN has appeared in court in Ipswich today charged with the murder of his girlfriend.Christopher Caunter of South Avenue, Hullbridge, Essex, was arrested in Thailand in June 2006 on suspicion of the murder of Deborah Townsend.

A MAN has appeared in court in Ipswich today charged with the murder of his girlfriend.

Christopher Caunter of South Avenue, Hullbridge, Essex, was arrested in Thailand in June 2006 on suspicion of the murder of Deborah Townsend.

He was extradited to England and arrived back in the country today where he was formally charged with the 35-year-old's murder.

He appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court early this afternoon where he spoke only to confirm his name, age and address.

Dressed in a light blue denim shirt and khaki combat-style trousers, Caunter stood in the dock of court three and appeared composed throughout the four-minute hearing.

The 35-year-old, who has tanned skin and greying hair, is alleged to have murdered his girlfriend in July 2005, at or near Beccles.

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Her body was found a day after her hair and scalp tissue was discovered by a motorist on the A146 at Beccles.

Police launched a search for Ms Townsend's body and her corpse was found in a Land Rover Discovery in the grounds of Newland Hall, Roxwell near Chelmsford.

The carer from East Ham, London, who was also known as Deborah Hamilton, had two daughters, aged 18 and 15, and an eight-year-old son.

She had been living with Caunter in Bromley, south-east London, for a short while leading up to her death.

Ian Pells, prosecuting Caunter at court today, asked magistrates to remand the defendant in custody and send the case to crown court.

Caunter, who was represented by Neil Saunders, was then taken down from the court and remanded in custody to appear at Ipswich Crown Court on May 4 for a plea and directions hearing.

Robert Caunter, 37, Michael Briggs, 39, both from Barking and 37-year-old Joseph Brown from Romford have all been charged with assisting an offender in relation to the inquiry.

They have denied the charge and are due to stand trial at Ipswich Crown Court at a future date.

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