Murder trial: Mum’s body found in blood-spattered Nelson flat

A NELSON man murdered his girlfriend in a violent and sustained attack and later admitted the killing to a friend and his mum, it has been claimed.

Preston Crown Court was told Debra Walsh had earlier been seen with a bruised face and told her ex-husband Carl Field had “battered” her.

She was found dead a month later at her flat in Norfolk Street, Nelson. She had head injuries, a fractured thyroid cartilage and there was blood staining at her home.

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Field (34), of St Philip’s Street, Nelson, denies murdering Debra Louise Smith, who was more often known by her maiden name of Walsh, between February 21st and March 22nd this year.

Opening the case for the Crown, Mr Neil Flewitt said the defendant and mother-of-one Debra (34) had been in a relationship since last October and evidence gathered by police suggested it had been volatile and sometimes violent.

Debra was last seen on the afternoon of February 22nd, when she made a return visit to Pendle Council’s housing office. The previous day when she visited staff noticed her face was badly bruised and swollen. A housing officer asked Debra what had happened and she replied she had been mugged.

That same day, February 21st, she told her ex husband: “Look what Carl’s done. He’s battered me”. The ex-husband took two photos of her on his mobile phone. She spoke of Field having stolen her bank card and was concerned he would withdraw all her benefits money which was paid into her account that day.

That same day, Debra sent a text message to Dan Sears, a mutual friend of hers and Field, in which she said: “He has smashed my face in so I am going to the police because I have had enough”.

Police confirmed £110 benefits money was withdrawn from her account in two transactions on the same day and further withdrawals of benefits money were made on later dates.

Mr Flewitt also told the court Sears received a phone call or text from Field at the end of February in which the defendant said: “I’ve done something stupid. I have killed Debra”.

Field said he intended to go to the police, but needed a couple of days to make arrangements for his dog, Amelia. The prosecution say the defendant spoke of having been drinking and taking valium and Debra had been winding him up, goading him.

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In further contact between the two men, Mr Sears mentioned about Field still not having gone to the police. The defendant told him: “I’m going Monday. May as well have weekend before my Queen’s B&B”. But Field did not hand himself in as he promised and, in March, he sent a text message to his mum, Susan Wilding, in which he said he had something to tell her. In one message he said: “Think I may be going to prison for a long time” and added “if not prison, I am going to disappear forever, not kill myself, just get away”.

His mother went on to call him and Field told her he had killed Debra. His mother made a 999 call to police to pass on the information.

In a further phone conversation, Field said: “It’s an accident. I have killed somebody. It’s a stupid thing that’s gone wrong.” He said it was a prank that went wrong in which he had snapped her windpipe and mentioned martial arts.

When police went to the Norfolk Street address, Field was found slumped in a chair in a first floor room. Debra Walsh’s body was found in a sleeping bag in a bedroom. When told he was being arrested, Field said: “I was just biding my time. Saves me coming to you. It’s over with now”. And on the way to the police station, Field reportedly asked another officer: “What do you get for manslaughter?”

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Mr Flewitt also suggested to the court how a neighbour is likely to have heard the assault that led to Debra’s death although it was not clear when the incident overheard took place, but during it Debra was heard to repeatedly shout: “Please, I am begging you, don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me”.

A forensic scientist found there had been at least seven separate blows that led to blood spattering. Two were in the bedroom, four on the landing outside the bathroom and one inside the bathroom. They were at low level, indicating Debra had been on or close to the floor at the time.

A post-mortem examination found she had injuries to her head, jaw and a fracture to the right of her thyroid cartilage, part of the voice box. Such a fracture could occur due to pressure on the neck or a blow to the front of the neck.

There was evidence the defendant’s dog had caused her facial injuries after she had died.

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Mr Flewitt added to the court: “The prosecution case is that she died as a consequence of a violent and sustained assault at the hands of the defendant, which caused not only widespread blood spattering, but also injuries and that when he inflicted those injuries, he intended at the very least to cause really serious harm to her and perhaps to kill her”.

The trial continues and is due to last until the end of next week.