Sussex

Janet Muller death: Student died in car boot fire

Janet Muller Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption The body of Janet Muller was found in the burnt-out car near a golf club in West Sussex

A man murdered a student by placing her in the boot of his car and setting fire to it, a court has heard.

The body of Janet Muller, 21, a German national studying at the University of Brighton, was found in the burnt-out Volkswagen Jetta on 13 March.

Miss Muller was beaten before being put in the boot and died in the fire, Guildford Crown Court was told.

Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw, of Lakeside, Beckenham, south-east London denies murder.

Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC told jurors the car was dumped near Ifield Golf Club near Horsham, West Sussex.

False name

He said the car had been hired by Mr Jeffrey-Shaw's girlfriend while he and his son were present.

After setting fire to the Jetta, the defendant ordered a taxi from a nearby hotel using a false name and returned home.

Miss Muller had experienced mental health problems, jurors heard, and was admitted to Mill View Hospital in Hove on 3 March.

She went missing on two occasions on 12 March, Mr Bennetts said, with the last being at 22:15 that evening.

Mr Bennetts said she was last seen approaching an unidentified car in Kingsway, Hove at 01:15 on 13 March.

Phone records and CCTV footage showed the defendant's phone and his car were in the Brighton area that evening.

The court heard there was no evidence the defendant and Miss Muller "knew or associated with each other prior to the date of her death".

Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption The burn-out car was found dumped near Ifield Golf Club in West Sussex

Mr Bennetts said 27-year-old Mr Jeffrey-Shaw's defence would be that he did not know Miss Muller was in the boot.

He claimed that drug dealers he knew had borrowed the car and ordered him to burn it when they returned the vehicle to him.

Mr Jeffrey-Shaw claimed he would be shot if he had not complied with their instructions, the prosecution said.

Mr Bennetts said the defendant told police: "I am not getting done for something I haven't done.

"The whole thing is a nightmare I haven't woken up from."

The trial continues.

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