Eystna Blunnie murder case: Tony McLernon 'beat' pregnant ex-girlfriend

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Eystna Blunnie
Image caption,
Eystna Blunnie was found fatally injured near her home on 27 June

A heavily-pregnant woman was lured to a "brutal" death by her ex-boyfriend, a court has heard.

Eystna Blunnie, 20, was found with fatal head injuries near her home in Howard Way, Harlow, Essex, on 27 June.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard she had been in an abusive relationship with 24-year-old Tony McLernon.

Ms Blunnie agreed to meet Mr McLernon after he sent her a text telling the mother-to-be he had a "surprise" for her, the court heard. He denies murder.

Mr McLernon, of North Grove, Harlow, also denies a charge of child destruction by wilfully causing the death of an unborn child.

Ms Blunnie had initially been reluctant to see Mr McLernon but he convinced her to meet him in the early hours with "self-pitying messages designed to gain sympathy", prosecutor Andrew Jackson told the court.

Unemployed Mr McLernon, who had been drinking and using cannabis, forced Ms Blunnie to the ground and repeatedly kicked and stamped on her, the court heard.

The court was told residents living near the scene of the attack heard her "horrific" screams and the impact of the blows.

Ms Blunnie, who had been due to give birth within days, was found with severe head and facial injuries.

A post-mortem examination showed she had suffered a severe brain injury as the result of repeated blows and more than 50 separate injuries. She died in hospital.

Image caption,
Jurors were shown CCTV footage during the trial

'Violent crisis'

Mr Jackson told jurors: "It was an act of brutal, sustained and wholly unprovoked violence."

Mr McLernon "knew he was not only killing her but their unborn child as well," he added.

The court was told that pathologist Nat Cary found Ms Blunnie's child had been a healthy girl who would otherwise have been born "quite normally".

The baby died from "starvation of vital oxygen" as a result of the attack, jurors heard.

The couple, who met in 2010, had been together since April 2011 and got engaged three months later.

In October, Ms Blunnie told Mr McLernon she was pregnant with his child. They broke up after Ms Blunnie, a catering student and barmaid, made complaints to police that he had been abusing her.

Mr Jackson told jurors the couple's relationship was "marked by controlling, bullying and violent behaviour" and ended having reached "a considerable and violent crisis".

The court heard Mr McLernon had a history of abusive relationships.

McLernon, wearing a dark suit and tie, appeared to hang his head as Ms Blunnie's father Kevin gave evidence.

Describing her, Mr Blunnie said: "She was happy. She was looking forward to having her first child."

The trial, expected to last up to four weeks, continues.

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