A Northampton man accused of killing India Chipchase is denying her murder because he claims she died by “accident” during consensual sexual intercourse, a jury has been told.
On the first day of the trial of Edward Tenniswood, aged 52, who is charged with rape and murder, a court heard the opening of the prosecution case against him.
Christopher Donnellan QC, showed CCTV to the jury which showed Ms Chipchase’s and Tenniswood’s movements on the night she went missing.
Birmingham Crown Court heard Ms Chipchase had been on a night out with her friends and had gone to the NB’s nightclub in Bridge Street, Northampton.
Mr Donnellan said India had been drinking and was “unsteady on her feet”.
The jury was shown CCTV of the 20-year-old when she was inside the nightclub. She also sent text messages to her boyfriend that contained spelling mistakes.
Mr Donnellan said Ms Chipchase was brought to the attention of a doorman in the NB’s after he was asked by her friend to help out as she was “drunk”.
The court heard the doorman described Ms Chipchase as “very drunk and swaying on her feet”. He said she “wanted to go home”.
Mr Donnellan said: “The doorman assisted her from the premises.
“He confirmed with her that she had enough money to get home and sat her in the taxi.
“The taxi driver said India asked to be taken home. The taxi driver was cautious. He was concerned about her being sick in the cab.
“He asked her for payment. She became upset at that. He said he could not understand what she was saying,” Mr Donnellan told the court.
“Whatever was said to her, her reaction was to get out of the taxi.
“Very sadly she got out of the cab and walked a few feet back to NB’s.”
The jury was shown CCTV of the Moon on the Square, in Market Square, where Tenniswood had been on the same night.
Mr Donnellan said a witness in the pub, who spoke to Tenniswood, said he told her he was a “mature student from down south and was writing a book”.
Mr Donnellan said: “Some witnesses said he seemed to be using over-long words to describe things to make himself sound more intelligent.
“He concentrated on talking to two women and told them he had been burgled.”
The court heard Tenniswood left the Moon on the Square at 1am and he then made his way to Bridge Street.
CCTV footage shown in court revealed Tenniswood, wearing a duffel coat and a ruck sack, arriving at NB’s at 1.11am.
Mr Donnellan said it was the prosecution’s case that Tenniswood saw Ms Chipchase standing outside the nightclub and “closed in” on her.
He said: “The defendant begins talking to her. He holds on to her left elbow with a fairly fixed grip.
“Witnesses say India had been standing there crying. It is the prosecution’s case that the defendant closed in on that.
“He was talking closely into India’s face and made quite an intrusive movement towards her. He took her by the arm and does not let go all the way through the footage.”
The court heard Tenniswood was heard to be making repeated assurances to Ms Chipchase that he would get her home safely.
The jury was shown how Ms Chipchase and Tenniswood walked up Bridge Street and then got into a cab and the top of the road.
Mr Donnellan said, once inside the taxi, Tenniswood intially said he wanted the driver to take him to McDonald’s in Riverside or Sixfields, neither of which were in the direction of where Ms Chipchase lived.
He said Tenniswood asked to be taken to the BP garage on St James and the driver then witnessed him get out of the cab and do something “out of sight” for three or four minutes.
The court heard Ms Chipchase tried to call her boyfriend three times when she was in the taxi but could not get through. She also sent Snap Chat messages to another friend, however, the contents were nonsensical.
Mr Donnellan said that apart from one occasion when Ms Chipchase said “turn right”, Tenniswood was the one who gave directions to the driver.
After arriving at an address near Stanley Road, Mr Donnellan said a witness saw them go through Tenniswood’s door.
Mr Donnellan said it would “never been known what happened in the house” as the defendant had not given “any detail or explanation”.
Mr Donnellan said: “The evidence shows her death occurring as soon as an hour of arriving at [the house]. We make that suggestion based on telephone connections.
“The last telephone connection made by the defendant was at 02.38 when he dialled the number for 02 customer services.”
The conclusion of a post-mortem, he said, was that Ms Chipchase died as the result of pressure to the neck and had injuries to her face.
Tenniswood’s DNA was found on Ms Chipchase’s body and under one of her finger nails, which Mr Donnellan said “strongly suggested she was fighting for her life”.
He said: “After he was arrested, the defendant was interviewed and made no comment to all questions, apart from saying he knew where Bridge Street was.
“He did interrupt the interview to ask if he could have a cup of coffee, showing he was following what was happening.
“He gave no explanation or account of the incident.
“Only recently has the defendant indicated the issues at this trial. He admits sexual intercourse but denies rape. He says India consented. He denies deliberately killing her and said it was an accident during the course of sexual intercourse.”
Mr Donnellan said it was the prosecution’s case that India did not consent to sex and the defendant did not reasonably believe she consented.
He said: “She was in no fit state to make a decision about anything. She was incapable of consenting.
“There can be no doubt he did grip her firmly around neck. The fact she had a mixture of his DNA and hers under her fingernail on her right hand that matched a mark on the left side of his neck indicates they were facing each other.
“It strongly points to her fighting for her life - far from consenting sex.
“The conversation he was heard to be having with India shows he knew she was vulnerable and very drunk. He was reassuring her she was safe and he would see her safely home.
“He must not reasonably have thought she was consenting while in that state.”
Mr Donnellan said the jury must convict the defendant if they find he had the intention to cause grievous bodily harm or death.
He said: “The deliberate act of putting hands around a smaller, lighter woman and keeping sustained pressure to render her unconscious and then keeping that pressure for a while longer so no oxygen could get to her blood would have only one result, which the defendant knew only too well. That is death.”
Tenniswood denies charges of rape and murder. The trial continues.