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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 14:18 GMT
Teacher 'died in seconds'
Jane Longhurst taught music at a Brighton special needs school
A teacher who was allegedly murdered by a musician may have died in seconds during a sex game, a court has been told.

Lewes Crown Court has heard how Jane Longhurst could have died instantly while being strangled in a specific way.

Graham Coutts, who denies murdering the 31-year-old, claims Miss Longhurst had consented to asphyxial sex on 14 March.

He said the special needs teacher died suddenly during breath control play sex where he had tied a pair of tights around her neck.

Not tight enough

Pathologist Mark Shepherd has told the court how the tights could have stimulated sensitive pressure points on Miss Longhurst's neck in a way which could have led to her death in seconds.

He disagreed with the prosecution's pathologist who said she probably died because of a ligature constricting a vital oxygen supply to her brain.

Dr Shepherd said a lack of bruising on Miss Longhurst's neck showed the ligature was not tight enough to block main arteries or her windpipe.

Graham Coutts
Graham Coutts admitted an obsession with pornography

He said: "I believe if the ligature had been applied for a long time with the force necessary to cause strangulation, one would anticipate finding some evidence of bruising to the muscle.

"I do not believe the neck would have been devoid of it as it was.

"I believe that indicates that it is the nervous mechanism that has occurred in this case."

Miss Longhurst's body was found on fire on Wiggonholt Common, in Pulborough, five weeks after she went missing.

Mr Coutts, of Waterloo Street, Hove, is accused of murdering her and then storing her body for 35 days.

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