Victim’s fight for her life

A MALE nursing assistant who strangled and killed his girlfriend had tried to throttle her just days earlier, a court heard. Shaun Hilton, 39, employed at Papworth Hospital, had admitted punching divorced mother of two Kim Fuller and trying to strangle he

A MALE nursing assistant who strangled and killed his girlfriend had tried to throttle her just days earlier, a court heard.

Shaun Hilton, 39, employed at Papworth Hospital, had admitted punching divorced mother of two Kim Fuller and trying to strangle her during a row, Cambridge Crown Court heard yesterday (Tuesday).

He had confessed to Kim's mother the day after the earlier attack on February 21 last year.

Just 10 days later, he throttled Kim, 34, in the living room of his home in Soham, before dumping her body at a disused airfield in Langham, Norfolk.

The court heard there was no evidence of a struggle in the house and no defensive injuries on Kim's body.

Her injuries were consistent with having been attacked by surprise from behind, an arm locked around her throat and a hand placed over her mouth and nose.

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The pathologist found Kim had torn muscles in her ribcage indicating that she had been fighting for her life as Hilton asphyxiated her.

Timothy Barnes, prosecuting, told the court Hilton had a history of domestic violence.

Married three times, he had regularly beaten one wife and had tried to strangle the six-year-old daughter of another.

Mr Barnes said Hilton was "a violent, aggressive man whose anger causes him to take out his feelings on the women who are with him at the time."

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The court heard how Hilton had met Kim Fuller in 2004 through a dating agency.

Kim, who worked for the Nationwide Building Society, moved in with him shortly afterwards.

But the relationship ran into trouble over his jealousy at her texting and speaking to male friends.

Unknown to Kim, the prosecution claimed, Hilton was seeing another woman he had met through the agency at the same time as his relationship with her.

His jealousy was what led to the attack on February 21, 2005, the prosecution told the jury.

Eventually, Kim had moved back in with her mother and stepfather in nearby Mildenhall, Suffolk.

But on the evening of March 3 she said she was going to visit Hilton. Her mother asked if she intended to stay the night to which Kim replied "give me some credit I'm not that stupid."

Her mother's last words to her were "be careful".

When Kim had not returned the next morning, her mother and stepfather drove to Hilton's house in Soham. It was empty and Kim's car was outside.

When they could not reach Kim or Hilton on their mobile phones they rang the police but, the court heard, Kim was already dead.

Her body was found two days later on March 6.

Hilton denies murder but admits manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Mr Barnes said Hilton had placed Kim's body in the boot of his Vauxhall Cavalier and driven to Langham.

He said Hilton alone knew why he had killed Kim, but it may have been jealousy at discovering she had been seeing another man, in the days before her death.

Mr Barnes said: "The Crown suggests he clearly became jealous and not for the first time.

"Probably it was to do with his wish to control her. He may have learned something about the man she spent the previous Sunday with. Perhaps he saw the text message from him. Perhaps she just rejected him and that was the trigger for what he did."

As Kim's body lay nearby, Mr Barnes said Hilton had used her mobile phone to text sexually explicit messages to the man, Keith de Brissac Bernard.

Among the texts Hilton had asked for Mr Bernard's address and had written: "God, I've forgotten your name."

Mr Barnes said it was important to consider Hilton's actions after the killing.

He said: "Did he panic? Did he telephone the police and say something terrible had happened? Did he contact her parents and say he couldn't believe what he had done? Did he take an overdose?

"He did none of these things. What he did was to drive a considerable distance that evening and dump the body in a place where it might well not be found for some considerable time and if it was could be said to be nothing to do with him."

After leaving the body, the court heard that Hilton drove to Norwich where he bought new clothes placing his old blood stained clothes in a bag.

He then drove to Land's End in Cornwall. On the way, he called his father telling him that he'd walked in on Kim kissing another man and had left to clear his head.

He checked into a hotel and was arrested that afternoon.

Over three days of police interviews, Hilton denied the killing telling officers he had left the house after a row, returning 10 minutes later to see Kim with another man through the window. He had then left.

Hilton told police he was "completely and madly in love with Kim" and she was the best thing to happen to him for a long time.

Mr Barnes described Hilton's story as "a mixture of lies and hypocrisy" both "rather stark and unattractive."

Did the lies, asked Mr Barnes, indicate a man "at the end of his tether, suffering some psychological illness and not responsible for his actions? Or someone prepared to tell repeated lies to evade responsibility for what he had done?"

Mr Barnes said Hilton's conduct was "callous and rational".

The trial continues.