Page last updated at 10:05 GMT, Thursday, 5 July 2007 11:05 UK

Teacher's killer jailed for life

Jane Longhurst
Jane Longhurst was a special needs teacher and musician in Brighton

The man convicted of murdering Brighton schoolteacher Jane Longhurst for his sexual gratification has been jailed for life.

Graham Coutts, 39, of Waterloo Street, Hove, was found guilty at the Old Bailey on Wednesday after a retrial.

He strangled Ms Longhurst, 31, from Reading, Berkshire, with a pair of tights then kept her body in a commercial storage unit for a thrill.

Coutts was told he would have to serve a minimum of 26 years in jail.

Coutts, who was originally from Leven in Fife, was first found guilty of murder in 2004, but the conviction was quashed on appeal.

Your meticulous attempts to cover up what you did are the keys to your true intentions
Judge Richard Hone

Coutts, who was obsessed with violent pornography websites, had alleged Ms Longhurst died during a consensual sex game.

But the new jury again rejected his claims and backed the prosecution case that he killed her to satisfy a "long-standing and perverted sexual interest" in the strangling to death of women.

Ms Longhurst was killed in March 2003, and her body was later burned by Coutts.

Jurors at the Old Bailey found him guilty by an 11 to one majority, after 13 hours of deliberations.

'Traumatic experience'

Sentencing him on Thursday, Judge Richard Hone said he had "not the slightest doubt" that Ms Longhurst, who used to go swimming with Coutts, did not consent to have sex with him.

Rather than attempting to revive her, the judge said, Coutts had kept her in a car boot, then a garden shed, and finally at a storage unit before burning her body on a secluded common.

"Your meticulous attempts to cover up what you did are the keys to your true intentions," he said.

"This retrial must have been a difficult and traumatic experience for Malcolm Sentance [Ms Longhurst's boyfriend] and Jane Longhurst's family."

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