Pathologist rejects death jump claim

A woman who died after her fiancée drove over her head in Beccles could not have jumped from a moving car, a jury heard yesterday.

A woman who died after her fiancée drove over her head in Beccles could not have jumped from a moving car, a jury heard yesterday.

Pathologist Michael Heath, who examined Deborah Townsend's body after it was found in the back of a Land Rover, told Ipswich Crown Court that her injuries were "some of the most severe I have seen in my 30 year career".

He said that Miss Townsend, 35, had suffered a catalogue of injuries in the incident, including extensive damage to the skull and scalp, a fractured

right heel and ankle and a broken left leg.

Christopher Caunter, 35, denies murdering Miss Townsend on the A146 Beccles bypass in July 2005 and claims that she jumped from the car while he was driving at between 50 and 70 mph.

Dr Heath told Karim Khalil, prosecuting, that Miss Townsend's injuries were not consistent with falling from a moving car.

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He said: "If you fell or were pushed from a car at that speed, you would skid, and once you had burned off your clothes then you would burn off your skin and that hasn't happened."

He said that he did not see any evidence that Miss Townsend's head hit the ground during a fall before being injured by the car.

The palms of her hands were not damaged - which would probably have happened if she had fallen from the car - but her knuckles were cut as if she had used her hands to try and protect her face.

He added that her leg injuries could have been caused by a car hitting her from behind and that the damage to

her skull was "consistent with the wheel of a vehicle being passed over the head".

Her skull was crushed and part of it was found on the road the morning after the incident.

Also before the court are Robert Caunter, 38, and Michael Briggs, 40, both of Barking, Essex, and Joseph Brown, 38, of Mildmay Road, Romford, Essex.

The three have denied assisting a murderer and helping Christopher Caunter to evade prosecution for cheating the Inland Revenue.

The trial continues.

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