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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Partner denies conspiracy charge
Peter Solheim
Peter Solheim's body was found floating in the sea
A woman accused of conspiring to murder her partner told a Cornish court on Friday he was obsessed with the occult and hard-core pornography.

Grandmother Margaret James told Truro Crown Court she did not know of any plan to kill 56-year-old parish councillor Peter Solheim.

Ms James, 58, of Porthoustock, denies conspiring to murder Mr Solheim.

He was found floating in the sea five miles south-east of Black Head, on the Lizard, in June last year.

He wanted me to be his high priestess but I wasn't interested
Margaret James

Mr Solheim had been drugged and mutilated by a machete or an axe before he died from drowning.

Ms James was asked if she was part of any plan to have Mr Solheim killed. She said: "No I was not."

Ms James met Mr Solheim, a pagan and member of the druid community, in September 1995 through a lonely hearts column and they started a relationship.

She told the court: "He started to move away from that, (druids) and became interested in magic, the occult.

"It was a power thing, his way of controlling people he couldn't otherwise control.

"He bought lots of stuff, it became an obsession. He certainly believed it."

The court heard Mr Solheim had many books on witchcraft and had a box of potions as well as a book containing spells.

Ms James said: "He wanted me to be his high priestess but I wasn't interested."

When the police searched Mr Solheim's home after his death they seized large quantities of hard-core pornography.

'No benefit'

Mr Solheim had been having a 20-year relationship with another woman, Jean Knowles, as well as a nine year relationship with Ms James.

He had proposed to Jean Knowles shortly before he was killed.

Defending James, Paul Dunkels QC, told the court there was no jealousy or financial motive to have Mr Solheim killed because he had not told Ms James he was leaving her.

He said: "Killing Peter Solheim brought no benefit for Margaret James.

"As she told police, I have lost my partner, I have lost my comfortable lifestyle."

The case was adjourned until Monday.


SEE ALSO
Councillor murder charge dropped
15 Jun 06 |  Cornwall

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