The last hours of Brighton student Janet Muller were shared with a jury yesterday (Monday 15 February) as prosecutor Philip Bennetts said that he would prove the case for murder.
She had been beaten over the head, bundled into the boot of a car and burnt alive, dying from the fumes.
Mr Bennetts told the jury at Guildford Crown Court that the defendant Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw set fire to the car on Friday 13 March last year.
Afterwards the defendant ordered a cab from a nearby hotel using a false name and returned to London.
Mr Bennetts said that Janet Muller was a 21-year-old student who a few months before this incident had been experiencing mental health problems.
She had been admitted to Mill View Hospital in Hove on Tuesday 3 March but went missing from the ward on Thursday 12 March some time between 9pm and 10.15pm.
She was described by staff as very vulnerable.
The last recorded sighting of her alive was at 1.13am on Friday 13 March when she was seen to approach an unidentified car in Kingsway, the seafront road in Hove. The moment was captured on poor quality CCTV.
Mr Bennetts said that there was no evidence to suggest that the defendant and Janet Muller knew each other or associated with each other before the date of her death.
He said that at the time Jeffrey-Shaw lived at addresses in Kent and London.
The defendant was arrested on Tuesday 17 March. Shortly afterwards he said: “I’m not getting done for something I haven’t done.”
He was interviewed. He answered “no comment” to the questions put to him.
In a defence statement dated Friday 20 November he said that he did not kill Janet Muller. Drug dealers he knew had borrowed the car from him.
When they returned the car to him he was told to burn the car otherwise he would be shot. He did not know that her body was in the car when he set fire to the car.
Mr Bennetts said that when all the evidence was examined, the jury would be satisfied so that they were sure that there was no truth in that account.
He said: “The prosecution will prove that the defendant is guilty of Janet Muller’s murder.”
Jeffrey-Shaw went to Lewisham Police Station to turn himself in on Tuesday 17 March, Mr Bennetts said, because he knew he was being sought for Janet Muller’s murder.
He was arrested. And in the custody area he said: “I’m not getting done for something I haven’t done.”
He also said: “The whole things a nightmare I haven’t woken up from.”
Jeffrey-Shaw was taken to Guildford Police Station and interviewed but said “no comment” to all the questions.
A post-mortem examination found that the Brighton University student had died from breathing in smoke.
She had several cuts on her scalp consistent with being hit with a blunt weapon. The blows would have been sufficient to render her unconscious or stunned.
There was no evidence of any injuries of assault or restraint other than to the head and facial area. Those injuries were not the cause of death, Mr Bennetts said, but would have immobilised the deceased allowing her to be put in the boot of the car.
The trial continues.
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