Page last updated at 20:43 GMT, Monday, 24 November 2008

Man drove car over fiancee's head

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Christopher Caunter will serve at least 21 years for murdering Deborah Townsend

A businessman has been jailed for life for murdering his fiancee by driving his Land Rover over her head as she lay injured on the ground.

Christopher Caunter, 36, of Hullbridge, Essex, must serve a minimum of 21 years for killing Deborah Townsend, 35, near Lowestoft, Suffolk, in July 2005.

Karim Khalil QC, prosecuting, said 18-stone Caunter had a volcanic temper.

The building labour supply firm owner denied murder, but was convicted at a retrial at Ipswich Crown Court.

Mr Khalil said witnesses told of a row between the couple: "It seems she must have got out of the Land Rover voluntarily or otherwise.

"He drove into her from behind, knocking her to the floor and injuring her legs in such a way that she could not walk off.

The evidence has shown that you have been violent in the past on a number of occasions and that you are a danger to others
Judge John Devaux

"He then reversed that Land Rover over her head. She was killed instantly."

Jurors were told that last November another jury failed to reach verdicts in the case.

The trial heard Caunter became embroiled in a row with his fiancee in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Parts of Ms Townsend's scalp and clumps of hair were later found in a pool of blood by a passing motorist near to a layby on the A146 in Beccles.

After Caunter fled the country to Thailand, Ms Townsend's body was discovered in the boot of the Land Rover in an isolated spot near to Chelmsford, Essex.

Sentencing, Judge John Devaux said Caunter should serve a minimum of 21 years.

"The evidence has shown that you have been violent in the past on a number of occasions and that you are a danger to others," said the judge.

Caunter's brother Robert Caunter, 39, of Barking, Essex, and friend Joseph Brown, 39, of Romford, Essex, who helped him cover up the crime, were found guilty of assisting an offender.

They will be sentenced on 22 December.

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