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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 18:24 GMT
Teacher murder was 'macabre sex act'
Graham Coutts
Graham Coutts denies murdering the special needs teacher
A special needs school teacher from Brighton was murdered to satisfy a musician's "bizarre and macabre sexual fantasy" of strangling women, a court has heard.

Graham Coutts, 35, from Waterloo Street in Hove, allegedly fulfilled his fantasy and then kept Jane Longhurst's body in a storage unit.

John Kelsey-Fry, prosecuting, told Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday that Mr Coutts would visit the body every three to four days but was forced to move it when it began to smell.

The jury of five women and seven men were told he then took the body to a secluded woodland bird sanctuary in Pulborough and set it alight.

A post-mortem examination showed Miss Longhurst had been strangled using a pair of tights.

Mr Coutts has pleaded not guilty to murdering the teacher between 14 March and 19 April, 2003.

Jane Longhurst
Jane Longhurst's body was found five weeks after she disappeared

The court heard that at 1005 GMT on 14 March Miss Longhurst made "the last (telephone) call she ever made" to the Waterloo Street address of her friend Lisa Stephens, who lived with Graham Coutts.

During police interviews Mr Coutts said his girlfriend was not at home, and he had had an ordinary conversation with Miss Longhurst.

Miss Longhurst's partner, Malcolm Sentance, told the court he had rung Mr Coutts when he became worried after she failed to come home later that day.

"Graham's voice was as normal as it normally is," he told jurors.

Mr Coutts had told police he had stayed at home doing work connected to his job as a part-time sales representative for the cleaning firm, Kleeneze, until 1330 GMT.

He said that on 19 April, the day Miss Longhurst's body was discovered, he was delivering products in the Hove area.

Jurors were shown CCTV tapes of Mr Coutts coming and going from the Big Yellow Storage Company, in Coombe Road, Brighton.

One section showed him removing a large white box, which the prosecution said contained the strangled body of Miss Longhurst.

Internet files

They were told how using the bogus name of Paul Kelly, Mr Coutts had taken out an agreement for a storage unit on 25 March.

Within three weeks, staff had noticed a pungent smell in the area of that unit, which had almost gone by the Easter bank holiday.

Police later found numerous items in the unit, including some of Miss Longhurst's clothes, her mobile phone and purse, a blood-stained rope and a blood-stained Kleeneze box.

A green petrol can was also found, together with a box of matches and plastic gloves.

The prosecution said experts who examined Mr Coutts' computers found he was a frequent viewer of violent pornography on the internet.

Pictures and video clips of women being strangled and stripped naked were also discovered at his address.

Mr Kelsey-Fry said: "He acted out for real on the unfortunate Jane Longhurst the fantasies that he had filed on his computer."

The trial continues.

Teacher's family arrive for trial
14 Jan 04  |  Southern Counties

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