Sian Rees murder: Body 'found in van after crash'

Crash scene and Sian Rees
Image caption Sian Rees' body was found at the scene of the crash

The murder of a Devon solicitor was discovered after her partner crashed his van while trying to dispose of her body, Exeter Crown Court has heard.

John Doyle, 54, of Merton Mill, Merton, has denied killing his partner of 14 years, Sian Rees.

Her body was found in the van on 1 July after it crashed on the A386 near Hatherleigh following a punctured tyre.

Prosecutors told the court the couple rowed after Mr Doyle got drunk while Miss Rees underwent cancer treatment.

The court heard Mr Doyle turned up late to collect Ms Rees who had undergone surgery for breast cancer, and had been drinking.

'Painful ordeal'

Going against medical advice she drove them both home. On the way she booked herself into a hotel to spend the night.

She continued to drive Mr Doyle to their Merton property so she could collect some belongings.

The court heard she never returned to the hotel.

The prosecution alleges that Ms Rees, 50, who was originally from Aberdare in south Wales, was stabbed in the abdomen and strangled in the kitchen of their home.

As Mr Doyle drove to dispose of her body, his Ford Fiesta van clipped a traffic island puncturing a tyre and causing the vehicle to crash, the court heard.

The body of Ms Rees was discovered between the front seats of the vehicle after the crash.

Tests on her body showed she had been strangled and had died about 12 hours before the crash at 10:00 BST on 1 July.

Paul Dunkels QC said: "It would have been a frightening and painful ordeal for her.

"There is no doubt she would have struggled to save herself, a struggle which we suggest is likely to have been painful for her after the operation she had undergone that day."

The trial heard that in the months before her death, Ms Rees had told her colleagues that she wanted to end the relationship.

Mr Doyle was also said to be angry at the amount of weight she had put on and had discovered she had been exchanging emails with a man she met online.

The court heard that Mr Doyle was "confused" at the crash scene and refused to answer questions during police interviews.

Instead he issued a statement admitting rowing with Ms Rees and struggling with her as she held a knife, but saying he did not remember anything else.

He added he believed he had her in the van because he was on the way to a hospital.

Mr Dunkels said: "He knew she was dead. He was trying to take her body to a place where he could conceal it."

The case continues.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites