Dead woman 'worshipped fiance'

A woman whose head was crushed by a Land Rover worshipped the ground her fiancé walked on, a court heard yesterday.Sarah Townsend told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that she had disapproved of her 35-year-old mother Deborah Townsend's relationship with Christopher Caunter because she had heard he had a reputation for violence.

A woman whose head was crushed by a Land Rover worshipped the ground her fiancé walked on, a court heard.

Sarah Townsend told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that she had disapproved of her 35-year-old mother Deborah Townsend's relationship with Christopher Caunter because she had heard he had a reputation for violence.

Miss Townsend, 20, said she had told her mother: “He's not going to marry you; he's going to bury you.” Despite this, her mother “worshipped the ground he walked on”.

A piece of her mother's skull and hair was found on the A146 Beccles bypass on July 15, 2005. Her body was later found in the boot of a Land Rover at Newland Hall, near Chelmsford.

Caunter, 35, of Hullbridge, Essex, denies murdering Deborah Townsend. Also before the court are his brother Robert Caunter, 38, and Michael Briggs, 40, both of Barking, and Joseph Brown, 38, of Romford. Robert Caunter, Briggs and Brown have denied assisting Christopher Caunter after Miss Townsend's death, and Briggs and Brown have denied assisting Christopher Caunter in relation to an investigation by the Inland Revenue into his business affairs.

Miss Townsend described her mother as being “bubbly, outgoing and fun” and said she had a lot of friends. However, in the months before her mother's death she had noticed that she had lost a lot of weight and seemed unhappy.

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She said that on one occasion she saw her mother had two black eyes and a bruise on her chin and had thought Christopher Caunter had beaten her up.

“I asked her what had happened. She looked at Chris and said that nothing had happened,” said Miss Townsend.

She said she had sent Caunter a text accusing him of beating up her mum and he had replied that he had never hit a woman in his life.

The court has heard that Christopher Caunter and Deborah Townsend had fled to Norfolk after Caunter's business premises were raided by the Inland Revenue.

Karim Khalil, prosecuting, has alleged that after an evening in the Norfolk pub in Lowestoft Miss Townsend later got out of the Land Rover and the car was driven into her before reversing over her head.

Caunter then fled to Thailand, from where he was extradited back to the UK in April this year.

The court has heard that Caunter claims his fiancée had jumped out of the Land Rover after an argument while he was driving at 50mph.

The trial continues.

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