Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Wednesday, 13 June 2007 17:09 UK

Musician 'feared he could murder'

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

A musician accused of strangling to death a special needs teacher told a former partner he feared he would murder a woman, a court has heard.

Graham Coutts, 39, denies the murder in March 2003 of Jane Longhurst, 31, who was originally from Reading, Berkshire.

Former partner Sandra Gates told jurors at the Old Bailey re-trial he was "turned on by her distress" during sex and once placed a pillow over her head.

Mr Coutts, of Waterloo Street, Hove, claims Ms Longhurst died accidentally.

'Excited by distress'

Ms Gates, who shared a home with Mr Coutts on and off over several years, said: "He actually said 'I have the feeling that I am going to murder a woman. I could strangle and murder a woman.' He was very, very distressed.

"I was shocked about it and upset. I said 'You really ought to go and see someone about this.'"

She told the Old Bailey jury Mr Coutts was excited by her distress and liked to tie her up with her tights and put his hands round her neck.

Ms Gates said: "I would ask him to please remove his arm or hand. I obviously wasn't comfortable. It was obvious. I just felt helpless. I couldn't move.

"Sometimes it was a loving relationship but more often than not it wasn't."

'Interest in violence'

She said Mr Coutts once put a pillow over head and she had to struggle to push it off.

The prosecution claims has a "very long-standing and perverted sexual interest in violence to women".

On Tuesday jurors were told Mr Coutts kept Ms Longhurst's body for about 11 days "possibly somewhere in the same house where he was living with his then-partner".

The prosecution said Mr Coutts then moved the body to a storage unit in Brighton, hired in a false name, and kept it there for almost a month, visiting "regularly every few days".

They said Ms Longhurst's body was found after he moved it to secluded woods - Wiggonholt Common near Pulborough - and set fire to it.

The trial continues.

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