Janet Muller death: Murder accused 'ordered to set fire to car'

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 accused of murdering a student whose body was found in the boot of a burnt-out car has said drug dealers ordered him to set fire to the vehicle.

Janet Muller, 21, a German national studying at the University of Brighton, was discovered in the charred Volkswagen Jetta on 13 March.

Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw, of Beckenham, south London, who denies murder, admitted setting fire to the car.

But he told Guildford Crown Court he did not know she was in the boot.

The prosecution alleges Miss Muller was beaten and then put in the car boot alive, before dying in the fire.

Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption The court has heard Miss Muller died in the fire

Mr Jeffrey-Shaw said he had been mixed up with drug dealers.

On the day of the fire, he visited a house in Crawley where there were two men and a woman, who he assumed was Miss Muller.

He said the two men borrowed the hire car for a robbery but it went wrong.

When they returned 45 minutes later there was no sign of Miss Muller but the men had blood on their clothes and they ordered him to burn the car and dump it, otherwise he would be shot.

'Looked guilty'

He admitted he bought the fuel and a jerry can from a petrol station in Three Bridges, Crawley and drove the vehicle to a quiet spot.

After the car went up in flames he said he remembered his bag and trainers were in the boot.

"It was then I saw what looked like a dead body," he said.

"It sounds silly but I just froze.

"Adrenaline - fear - washed over me.

"I thought of my children, I panicked, I looked guilty."

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

The court has heard that after setting fire to the Jetta, Mr Jeffrey-Shaw ordered a taxi from a nearby hotel using a false name and returned home.

The burnt-out car was found dumped near Ifield Golf Club near Horsham, West Sussex.

The trial continues.

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