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Murder suspect said he kissed partner then woke to find her dead

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A murder suspect told a jury he kissed his partner on the head to wish her good night then found her dead the following morning.

Kevin Ashton denied killing Helen Joy at their Wirral home, suggesting the injuries she was found with had been caused by a number of falls.

He also claimed the mum-of-three had been hallucinating and banging her head against a wall before she passed away.

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Ashton told Liverpool Crown Court he was not responsible for Ms Joy’s death as he gave evidence in his murder trial on Tuesday.

Asked about their final day together by Julia Smart, QC, defending, he claimed: “That day she was mad… it was like she was tripping.”

The 45-year-old said Ms Joy believed she could see her children outside their Leasowe property on January 30 of this year and added: “It was scary to be honest, I knew they weren’t there.”

Ashton said Ms Joy “fell a few times” on that day, and also recalled her hitting the back of her head against a wall while she was sat in their Twickenham Drive flat.

Merseyside Police cordon on Twickenham Drive, Leasowe, Wirral.
Merseyside Police cordon on Twickenham Drive, Leasowe, Wirral.

Asked to describe the last time he saw her alive, he said: “I kissed her on the head to say goodnight because that’s the thing we always did.”

He said he then went to bed, leaving her sitting on the floor in the living room.

When he woke on Sunday, he said he found Helen in the same position he had left her, but leaning forward, and added: “I thought she was asleep.”

Ashton said that, when he realised she was not asleep he held her and found: “She had blood on the back of her head. I just hugged her and cried.”

When asked to describe how he felt, he added: “There isn’t a word I can think of that feels that bad… I crouched down with her for ages, hours, minutes, I couldn’t really tell you to tell the truth.”

The jury, which was told Ashton did not have access to a phone on the morning he discovered Ms Joy had died, then went to see his cannabis dealer.

He said he told him Ms Joy was dead but that emergency services were not called, possibly because his dealer did not have any phone credit.

Ashton told the jury he returned home and said: “I put Helen in the bed. I thought I’m not leaving her on the floor like a piece of s***. I shouldn’t have touched her but I wasn’t leaving her on the floor like nothing.”

He said he did not know why he placed a toy squirrel and a picture of a dog next to her body: “Truthfully, I wanted to take all her tablets and drink and go with her. My life was over. That was the way I saw it.”

The following day, Monday, February 1, Ashton travelled first to his dad’s home in Widnes and then to his mum’s, before he was arrested by police.

The jury has heard Ms Joy was found with more than 100 injuries, including fractured neck bones, broken ribs and shearing of her scalp and upper gum away from her skull and jaw respectively.

Prosecutors allege Ashton “battered” the mum to death.

Asked what he thought had happened to Helen, Ashton said: “She’s fell in the night and come back in the living room, carried on drinking. But I’m not an expert, I don’t know.”

He told Miss Smart he did not punch or kick the 54-year-old, and only “grabbed” her when she was banging her head against a wall.

Ashton said: “I grabbed her and hugged, and hugged her hard.”

A police cordon at a block of flats on Twickenham Drive, Leasowe, Wirral
A police cordon at a block of flats on Twickenham Drive, Leasowe, Wirral

The QC asked whether there was anything Ashton did that led to her being found dead the next day.

The defendant simply responded: “No.”

He said Ms Joy was the “best thing in my life” and that he remained in love with her.

David McLachlan, QC, prosecuting, asked Ashton about the evidence of Joanne Connor, who on Monday told the jury she had seen the defendant “jab” an empty cider bottle in Ms Joy’s face.

The witness also said Ms Joy told her Ashton had assaulted her “and has done for eight years”.

In response, Ashton said of Ms Connor : “She makes stuff up.”

Mr McLachlan questioned how Ms Joy suffered two fractured bones in her neck, with Ashton responding: “She fell a few times that day so I don’t know.”

Asked whether he compressed her neck, he added: “I haven’t got the strength in my wrists, in my hands, to do that.”

Police cordon off flats on Twickenham Drive
Police cordon off flats on Twickenham Drive

Mr McLachlan highlighted the three previous convictions Ashton had for assaults on Ms Joy and suggested: “The long and short of it, Mr Ashton, is you bullied her.”

Ashton denied this, and denied that he hit Ms Joy.

The barrister took Ashton through some of the injuries she was found with, including rib fractures and tearing to her ears.

Ashton said: “She was falling left, right and centre.”

Turning to Ashton’s response to the discovery Ms Joy had died, Mr McLachlan asked why, as he did not have access to a phone, he did not “bang on every single door” around his home to get the attention of someone who could dial 999.

Ashton said: “I don’t know. I should of. I should of.”

Mr McLachlan suggested to Ashton that “you battered this woman to death”.

Ashton told him: “Not at all.”

The trial continues.

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