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Barmaid murder accused 'said he'd get her home safe'

Published 19/07/2016

India Chipchase was found dead at a house in Northampton (Northamptonshire Police/PA)
India Chipchase was found dead at a house in Northampton (Northamptonshire Police/PA)

A bookkeeper accused of killing a young barmaid was heard telling her outside a nightclub "I'll get you home safe" before she was raped and murdered, a court has heard.

Edward Tenniswood, 52, turned up outside NB's cocktail bar in Northampton in the early hours of Saturday January 30 where he spotted 20-year-old India Chipchase in a "fairly pickled state", according to the prosecutor.

Opening the Crown's case at Birmingham Crown Court, Christopher Donnellan said: "Others nearby thought from the way he spoke to her, he knew her.

"He was overheard by others to say, 'not to worry', and he'd get her home safe - he didn't."

Mr Donnellan said the jury would hear in due course that Tenniswood claims his victim consented to sex and that her death was "an accident".

On day one of his trial, the jury of six men and six women were told it was the prosecution's case Ms Chipchase's death "was no dreadful accident" and that Tenniswood "raped and throttled" her at his Stanley Road home in Northampton.

Mr Donnellan said that earlier that night a doorman concerned for Ms Chipchase's welfare had led her into a taxi, but that in her drunk and confused state, she got back out.

It was shortly afterwards at about 1.15am Tenniswood "spotted" her by the club's front door and a few minutes later "led, steered or escorted" her to a cab which took the pair to his house.

The court watched CCTV of Ms Chipchase, unsteady on her feet, approached by Tenniswood, leaning in close to her face in apparent conversation and appearing to put his hand on her arm.

The prosecution's barrister said that back at the house Tenniswood sexually assaulted and killed the woman, and that by about 3am she was dead.

Mr Donnellan said that Ms Chipchase "appears to have put up a struggle" because Tenniswood's blood was found under one of her fingernails.

When he was arrested at a nearby Ibis hotel in the town at 6.40pm on the Sunday, he was found with a scratch to his neck and marks on his arms and legs.

Jurors were also told that Ms Chipchase had suffered blunt force trauma to her head and face, and had a graze to her ear that had bled through to a sheet under the mattress in his upstairs front bedroom, on which she was discovered.

It is not clear how long Tenniswood stayed in the house, where he lived alone, after the woman died but he made his way to the town's Ibis hotel, in Mare Fair, where he lingered in the lounge area.

Mr Donnellan said: "He stayed there many hours but there's no sign of him on Sunday.

"But he was at 6.40pm in the lounge area some three hours after India's body was discovered, and he was arrested."

When officers caught up with Tenniswood he was watching TV in the hotel lounge, but it is said earlier used the nearby computer to check news sites for progress on the search for Ms Chipchase.

After being arrested, he told police: "You know who I am - Edward."

He added: "I'm surprised you were so quick, it didn't take you long to find me."

Then he said: "I suppose you've been to the house - you've found what you're looking for."

Inside the rucksack he was carrying during his arrest was a kitchen knife, with Mr Donnellan telling the jurors "maybe she had little option but to co-operate with him".

The Crown's barrister said there was evidence of Tenniswood having cleared up after his alleged crimes.

Mr Donnellan said: "He re-clothed her, covered her in a sheet and left her.

"Her death was no dreadful accident, because obviously if it had been the defendant would have called an ambulance or started CPR, or asked for help - of which there was no sign.

"He removed her belongings, placing them around the house - they were inconspicuous."

Jurors were told Tenniswood had "other women's clothes and shoes" dotted throughout his rented home.

The victim's handbag and shoes were found in an untidy upstairs bedroom, while her mobile phone was in a box underneath some papers under the stairs.

His terraced house was in a "pretty grim" state, with newspaper-covered floors, furniture pushed against the walls and a back door fastened with a padlock

Fingerprints tests also showed Ms Chipchase had touched the door jamb into the downstairs bathroom.

Mr Donnellan added: "He was obviously aware of what he was doing and put on clear plastic vinyl gloves.

"They were found in a bag of rubbish - India's blood on the outside of the gloves and his DNA on the inside."

Mr Donnellan, suggesting a possible motive for the killing, said: "It is very likely his motive was sexual and when she resisted him he was determined to have sex and he grabbed her around the throat and squeezed.

"He held her until she was unable to resist any more."

He added: "We'll never know what happened in the house, in all its details, but the defendant didn't give an explanation either on arrest or in interview."

Tenniswood denies the charges and the trial continues.

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