Murder trail accused “lied to cover up killing”

A MAN standing trial at Cambridge Crown Court for the murder of a St Ives woman was today described as a liar who tried to cover up the fact that he killed her.

John Mearns sat motionless in the dock as Allan Mainds, prosecuting, claimed the defendant set about creating a crime scene after strangling Pauline Smith to death at her home in Gainsborough Drive on October 26.

The 53-year-old, who denies murder but admits manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, is accused of strangling the mother of two and then stabbing himself in the stomach to make it look like self-defence before placing the knife in her hand.

Mr Mainds told the court that contrary to Mearns’ claims that he was only trying to restrain Mrs Smith after she started hitting him in the chest, only significant pressure for “minutes” could have broken her voice box and caused the internal bleeding found during a post mortem examination.

“It’s a pack of lies for him to suggest it was anything else,” he added.

Mearns initially said that Mrs Smith stabbed him in the stomach, before changing his story – a change he blamed on memory loss due to trauma.

The court heard on Tuesday how he had told consultant forensic psychiatrist, Dr Nuwan Gacappathie, how, after squeezing Mrs Smith’s neck to restrain her, and lifting her onto the bed – at which point she was still moving – he stabbed himself in the stomach with the intention of killing himself.

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But Mr Mainds said: “Why did he try to kill himself if he wasn’t sure she was dead?”

He also questioned why, if Mearns was intent on suicide, he didn’t “finish the job?”

The jury was also told how the adjustment disorder, from which Mearns was suffering at the time of incident, was unlikely to have led to him strangling Mrs Smith.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Alexander Shubsachs, who interviewed Mearns over two days in April, said that the condition would “not sufficiently” impair his ability to make rational judgements. He also told the court that Mearns’ account of that night’s events “would rule out any role” for adjustment disorder, adding that he believed the condition did not impair the defendant’s self-control.

In his closing speech, Mr Mainds told the court: “Could the knife have fallen into her hand? It’s ironic that it went to four or five other places on the bed before it did. Adjustment of the knife is the only adjustment in this case.”

The trial continues.