A MOTHER-of-two who was found strangled to death in her bedroom was “as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside,” Cambridge Crown Court was told today.

A MOTHER-of-two who was found strangled to death in her bedroom was "as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside," Cambridge Crown Court was told today (Wednesday).

Four witnesses gave evidence on day three of a trial in which John Mearns denies murdering Pauline Smith.

Mrs Smith was found dead in the bedroom of her flat in St Ives on October 26 last year.

She had been living at the flat after being told to leave the family home in Somersham after it was discovered she and Mearns were having an affair. But days before her death she told the defendant she wanted to return home and restore her relationship with her family.

Witness Debbie Drew, who had known Mrs Smith for 15 years and described her as a "very special friend", told the court her separation from her family continued for some time and upset her a great deal.

"She broke up with John for that reason," she added.

Claire Reed, who was friends with Mrs Smith for 20 years, told the court how the 54-year-old hairdresser met Mearns at a singles' night at Wood Green Animal Shelter on March 11 last year.

She described her first impression of Mearns as "a gentleman" who was very well dressed saying he looked smart in his shirt, tie, jacket and trousers.

But as the relationship developed the court heard Mearns "wanted her to himself".

Hairdresser Michelle Reader, who lived a few doors away from Mrs Smith in Gainsborough Drive, St Ives, told the court how she regularly went out socialising with Mrs Smith.

She explained how on a "girlie night out" at the Nelson's Head pub, St Ives, in October last year she looked out of the window and saw Mearns peering in wearing sunglasses.

She said that Mrs Smith was "angry that he had come the pub" and said was not in love with him.

Another friend Elaine McEachern, who had known Mrs Smith since the 70s, told the court: "At the beginning Mrs Smith said the relationship was going really well. But in one conversation we had she said Mearns was becoming very possessive.

"She tried to end it but he wouldn't allow her to end it. He was possessive about her going out with her friends."

On Monday, the prosecution alleged that Mearns strangled Mrs Smith when she revealed she wanted to return to her husband after she left their Somersham home in spring last year.

Mearns, of no fixed address, denies murder but admits manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The trial continues.