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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 January, 2004, 17:00 GMT
Teacher 'had tried sex games'
Jane Longhurst
Jane Longhurst taught music at a Brighton special needs school
A teacher allegedly strangled by a musician had told a friend she had in the past engaged in sex involving cutting off her breathing, a court has heard.

Graham Coutts is accused of murdering Brighton teacher Jane Longhurst, whose body was found in April of last year.

The 35-year-old Hove man has told Lewes Crown Court she died when consensual sex involving asphyxiation went wrong.

On Tuesday the court heard from an ex-colleague of Miss Longhurst who said the teacher had once told her of having sex with a former boyfriend which involved stopping breath.

She thought it was exciting - I do not necessarily mean sexually exciting, but something that was OK
Ruth Davis, Jane Longhurst's former colleague

Mr Coutts, of Waterloo Street, Hove, denies murdering 31-year-old Miss Longhurst and has said she died while they were having sex involving asphyxiation, with which he has admitted to having an obsession.

Ruth Davis, a drama teacher who worked with Miss Longhurst at a school in Cambridge in the 1990s, told the court she had spoken to her in the staffroom about a weekend away with her then boyfriend.

Ms Davis said: "She had always said it was an exciting relationship and she said something about the kind of sex involving something to do with stopping breath or cutting off breath.

"It did not seem like she was disturbed by it at all. I would have been concerned if she had been disturbed by it.

'Unusual sexual predilection'

"It was a whispered conversation in a busy staffroom but it was not whispered to the extent that I might have misheard.

"We talked for a little while about it."

Ms Davis told the jury Miss Longhurst could not give the impression of being "sleazy" and had laughed while they talked.

She added: "She thought it was exciting - I do not necessarily mean sexually exciting, but something that was OK."

Earlier Mr Coutts had said he had feared his unusual sexual tastes could lead to a partner's death.

Graham Coutts
It is not something I am happy about as a human being
Graham Coutts on his use of pornography

Several of the part-time musician's former lovers had told the court how Mr Coutts liked to put his hands around their throats during sex.

He said: "I thought I was the only person to have this unusual sexual predilection.

"I thought it might lead to me doing something bad or wrong.

"I expressed a worry that it might lead down the road whereby someone might die."

Mr Coutts told the court he had tried asphyxial sex more than 170 times with former lovers.

He said it had come to worry him less as he realised it was more common than he had thought.

The musician also said he had become addicted to looking at pornography on the internet, but was only interested in pictures of consensual asphyxial sex and women's necks with ligatures.

The court heard 86% of the pornographic images found on his computer were violent in nature.

Mr Coutts said: "It is not something I am happy about as a human being."

He told the court looking at the sites did not make him rape or murder women.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.

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