Page last updated at 16:50 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 17:50 UK

Gamer's death 'Jacobean tragedy'

Matthew Pyke
Matthew Pyke was due to start a course at Nottingham Trent University

The death of a student allegedly at the hands of a German man who had become obsessed with his girlfriend was like a "Jacobean tragedy", a court heard.

David Heiss, 21, of Limburg near Frankfurt, is accused of stabbing Matthew Pyke in a flat in Nottingham, the city's Crown Court heard.

Mr Heiss had "become infatuated" with 21-year-old Joanna Witton who he met on an internet gaming site, jurors heard.

Mr Heiss denies murdering Mr Pyke in a "savage and sustained" attack.

Miss Witton, from Selby, North Yorkshire, discovered Mr Pyke dead at the flat they shared above a pub in Nottingham city centre on 19 September last year. The 20-year-old had been stabbed 86 times.

The couple spent much of their lives on a website where they discussed strategies and characters for the computer game Advanced Wars, the jury was told.

It was on one of the site's chat forums Miss Witton met Mr Heiss, who went under the alias Eagle the Lightening.

I needed to talk to people but I never told people everything
Witness Joanna Witton

The court heard he spent six months pestering her with emails and messages before allegedly murdering her boyfriend, and his love rival, Mr Pyke.

On Wednesday, another gamer who used the site, David Quinn, 19, told the court Mr Pyke's death was like the Jacobean tragedy The Changeling.

The jury was told Mr Quinn spent many hours on his own in his bedroom conversing through chatrooms.

Mr Quinn said: "This thing reminds me of a Jacobean tragedy called The Changeling.

"I was doing an English course and we were reading this book where two men were trying to win the affection of the lead female character.

"It ended up in the deaths of quite a few of the characters."

Asked by prosecutor Shaun Smith QC, why he got annoyed with Mr Heiss during online conversations, Mr Quinn added: "It was basically because of his desperation to have some kind of physical contact with Joanna Witton, to have a kind of romantic interest."

Mr Heiss visited the environmental sciences student and Mr Pyke, who was about to start a course in computer science, twice in June and July.

But after Miss Witton rejected his advances, Mr Heiss returned from Germany for a third time and stabbed Mr Pyke to death at the couple's flat above the Orange Tree Pub in North Sherwood Street, the court was told.

Miss Witton said she told other users on chat forums about Mr Heiss stalking her and Mr Pyke, who was originally from Stowmarket, Suffolk.

She said: "People were asking if anything was wrong. I needed to talk to people but I never told people everything. I held back on some things."

The case continues.



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