THE jury in the trial of the man accused of murdering 31-year-old Jane Longhurst of Shaftesbury Road, Brighton, is expected to retire today (Monday) to consider its verdict.

Graham Coutts, a 35-year-old guitarist of Waterloo Street, Hove, and former pupil of Westwoods Grammar School in Northleach, denies the charge.

The three-week hearing at Lewes Crown Court ended on Friday with closing speeches to persuade the jury of his guilt or innocence.


THE inescapable truth was that Coutts murdered Miss Longhurst to act out his 'bizarre and macabre' sexual fantasies.

Coutts' perversions were fuelled on the eve of Miss Longhurst's disappearance on March 14 last year.

He spent 90 minutes on his computer viewing death and violent sex web sites.

Mr Kelsey Fry said: "Within 24 hours his bizarre fantasies became reality, literally in his hands."

Computer records showed a pause in the use of his PC after the death but he went back to viewing pornography on March 24, the day before he moved the body into a self-storage warehouse.

Coutts was back on the computer before and after trying to visit the body. He downloaded pictures of a woman being strangled to death.

Mr Kelsey Fry: "If Jane Longhurst's death had been an terrible accident and he didn't speak up because he was concerned his partner would miscarry do you think it possible for him or for any man to download files like that?

How could he?"

Three days after dumping and burning the body Coutts was back on the internet.

His sexual fantasies, said Mr Kelsey Fry, were in the forefront of his mind. Why had Coutts kept the ligature round Miss Longhurst's neck if it wasn't to satisfy his fetish?

Coutts, he said, 'lied through his teeth' to police to cover up the murder.

He gave them no explanation of what had happened until he was able to concoct a story that she had died accidentally during consensual strangulation sex.

Ruth Davis, a teaching colleague, provided him with a basis for his lies. She told of a vague and whispered conversation in which Miss Longhurst said she had tried breath control sex.

It suggested Miss Longhurst might have been a woman prepared to indulge in a one-off kinky sex session. But did that fit her character?

Mr Kelsey Fry said previous boyfriends said they enjoyed loving "straight-sex" relationships with Miss Longhurst. She had never been unfaithful.

He said: "She was loving, caring and monogamous - not the sort to fall into a quickie with her friend's boyfriend."

Coutts, he said, maintained she went to his flat, gave him a 'come-on' look and within minutes was in bed with him indulging in strangulation sex.

If the accident story was true, why did Coutts not try to revive her and dial 999?

Mr Kelsey Fry said Coutts kept the body to satisfy his sexual perversions.


SOCIETY is a poorer place without the 'very special' Jane Longhurst.

And people may be disgusted by Coutts' obsession with pornography and his hiding of the body for five weeks, but, Mr Gold said, emotions must not be allowed to influence a jury.

This was a murder charge, nothing else.

He said it was Miss Longhurst who telephoned Coutts' home the day she died, not the other way round.

What was happening in her life at the time? The evidence suggested she was in need of support, that she was looking for something more than she was getting from her partner Malcolm Sentance.

He had been suffering stress from work and there were signs this was getting Miss Longhurst down.

Mr Gold: "It is possible on that day that she just needed someone and that someone was Graham Coutts."

Miss Longhurst, he said, went back to his flat for tea and may have wanted comfort in the arms of another man.

"It doesn't make her a bad person. It makes her human."

She may not have appeared a person who would indulge in kinky sex but, Mr Gold said, 'you can never tell what someone is like sexually'.

And, he reminded the jury, fellow teacher Ruth Davis said Miss Longhurst had spoken of asphyxia sex.

Mr Gold said it was hateful of Coutts to be unfaithful to his pregnant partner Lisa Stephens. "He should hang his head in shame, but it happens."

The facts, he said, pointed to consensual asphyxia sex.

Coutts had no previous convictions and none of his previous partners said he ever forced himself on them or hurt them.

Asphyxia sex, he said, had been something Coutts had controlled throughout his adult life and without mishap.

This time, however, it went wrong. Miss Longhurst may have died instantly when the ligature round her neck pressed on nerves which sent the wrong signals and stopped the heart.

Coutts should have dialled 999 but his partner had a scan only two days before and he was scared she might miscarry.

He hid the body and only told the full story of the accident after the birth of the twins.

His main concern, said Mr Gold, was the survival of his babies. Mr Gold: "It is not admirable, it is the reverse. But it is the truth."

Turning to the jury, he said: "When you ask yourselves can you be sure Jane Longhurst's died or not during consensual sex we submit the answer is going to be no. You can't be sure.

"This case is a tragedy but not a murder."