Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 15:42 UK

Web row 'escalated into threats'

Joanna Witton
Joanna Witton said the emails made her want to "smash" her computer

The girlfriend of a man allegedly murdered by her jealous web stalker has told a court how the defendant had sent her a series of email threats.

Nottingham Crown Court heard how, after contacting Joanna Witton, 21, through the website she ran with Matthew Pyke, German David Heiss became obsessed.

An internet row escalated between Mr Pyke and Mr Heiss with threats being exchanged, Miss Witton told the court.

Mr Heiss, 21, of Limburg, denies murdering Mr Pyke on 19 September.

The court heard how Mr Pyke, 20, originally from Stowmarket, in Suffolk, and Miss Witton had set up the war games website in late-2008.

'Keep things amicable'

However, soon after, Mr Heiss had begun to send increasingly intimate messages, despite having never met Miss Witton, the hearing was told.

Giving her evidence from behind a screen, Miss Witton said she had initially decided to maintain contact with Mr Heiss "to keep things amicable".

Matthew Pyke
Matthew Pyke was found stabbed 86 times in his flat

However after Mr Heiss visited the couple, a email row developed between the two men and Miss Witton told Mr Heiss she never wanted to see him again, she said.

Mr Heiss responded by threatening to return to the UK and kill himself in front of her, the court was told.

Speaking in court, Miss Witton described how the situation with Mr Heiss had affected her.

She said: "I would probably say that I was suffering from depression in the last few weeks.

"I was struggling to get up in the mornings and I wasn't enjoying work because of what was happening. Matthew and I never really had a row but I started getting picky with him which was not like me.

"I was willing to smash my laptop up if it meant that I would never speak to him (Mr Heiss) again. I was ready to run away."

The court heard how, the day after celebrating their third anniversary, Miss Witton had gone out to work and after failing to contact Mr Pyke, returned to their flat above a city centre pub to find him stabbed 86 times.

Mr Heiss told police he was involved in a struggle with Mr Pyke and has denied murder.

The trial continues.

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