A father-of-two killed a Sussex sex worker in a ‘savage and pointless’ attack on her birthday and pretended to be unconscious when police arrived at the murder scene 12 hours later, a court heard today.
Police found ‘high class escort’ Christina Abbotts bludgeoned to death in her bedroom at 2.30am on May 26, 2018.
Officers discovered 48-year-old Zahid Naseem lying in the sitting room of the Highams Hill flat, apparently unconscious.
Naseem denies murder and appeared at Lewes Crown Court today for the first day of his trial.
Miss Abbotts worked as a ‘high class escort’ under the pseudonym Tilly Pexton, unknown to many of her friends and family, the court heard.
She was described by her heartbroken family as a ‘sweet, loving daughter and best friend’ in an emotional tribute after her death.
The prosecution say there is nothing wrong with him. He was play actingProsecutor Christopher Tehrani QC
Opening the case this morning, prosecutor Christopher Tehrani QC said: “Following concerns expressed by friends and associates of Christina Abbotts, shortly before 2.30am police officers forcibly entered 31 Highams Hill.
“In one of the bedrooms police found Miss Abbott’s body on a bed. Miss Abbot was dead.
“When police went into the sitting room of the flat they noted Mr Naseem lying motionless on the sofa.
“Mr Naseem’s eyes were flickering.”
The court heard that Naseem was breathing and his eyes were responding to light, but he lay there apparently unconscious.
Mr Tehrani continued: “The prosecution say there is nothing wrong with him. He was play acting.”
Naseem was taken to hospital by ambulance and during the journey he was observed to open his eyes occasionally, the court heard.
At hospital he told a doctor that the last thing he remembered was ‘passing out’.
Naseem was discharged and taken to Crawley Police Station, where he was questioned.
The court heard that Naseem had ‘engaged the services’ of Miss Abbotts on previous occasions. They met on May 24 and went back to her flat, the jury were told.
Mr Tehrani said: “The prosecution case is the last contact anyone had with Miss Abbotts was midday on May 25, her birthday. Miss Abbotts did not respond to any contact after about midday.
“The prosecution say the reason for that is because she was dead.”
A post-mortem examination of Christina Abbotts revealed injuries consistent with being struck on the head 13 times. There was also evidence of strangulation, the court heard.
Prosecutor Mr Tehrani told jurors that a black pestle was found by Miss Abbott’s body. It had her blood on one end, and Naseem was forensically linked to the other end, the court heard.
He said: “The prosecution case is Zahid Naseem murdered Christina Abbotts.
“The assault Christina Abbotts suffered that resulted in her death was brutal, savage, unnecessary and pointless.
“There can be no doubt that whoever her attacker was they intended to kill her or cause her really serious harm.”
He told the jury that the front door to her flat had been locked from the inside, and all the windows were locked and secured.
The balcony doors were unlocked but, he said, ‘only someone with the powers of Spiderman’ would have been able to get into the top-floor flat that way.
Naseem denies murder. The trial continues.