Ex-girlfriend 'strangled during bondage'

A man accused of raping and murdering his ex-girlfriend claimed she died during a bondage sex session.

Winchester Crown Court heard that Alan Pickersgill, 37, told police that Julie Bywater put a cable tie around her neck at his home in Bournemouth in May 2010.

The jury was told Ms Bywater, 32, had been in a relationship with Mr Pickersgill but ended it in April.

Prosecutors allege he killed Ms Bywater because she had rejected him. Mr Pickersgill denies rape and murder.

The court heard he had met the teaching assistant on a massage course in September 2009.

Prosecutor Anthony Donne QC said, unknown to Ms Bywater, Mr Pickersgill had installed CCTV in the bedroom and bathroom of his flat and, when their relationship ended, he installed a tracking device in her car.

'Gone awfully wrong'

Mr Donne said Ms Bywater offered to help Mr Pickersgill complete the course and went to his flat on 4 May so the pair could massage each other.

Mr Donne said the CCTV had been turned off but was switched on the previous evening when Ms Bywater had gone there to practise massage.

The jury was played a message which Mr Pickersgill left on his mother's answerphone that evening which said: "Panic. Do not call the police. It's gone awfully wrong. Julie and I were in a massage, one thing led to another and it ended up in sex and I killed her."

Jurors were told that Ms Bywater's mother called her daughter's phone that evening and Mr Pickersgill talked to her for more than seven minutes, telling her she was asleep.

The court was told police discovered Mr Pickersgill in the room with Ms Bywater's naked body and there was no sign that she had struggled to get the tie off her neck.

The trial is expected to last four weeks.

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