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India Chipchase murder trial accused 'went for kebab' court told

Published 27/07/2016

India Chipchase was found dead in Tenniswood's house
India Chipchase was found dead in Tenniswood's house

An ex-bookkeeper accused of raping and murdering a barmaid told a court he went to get a kebab as his victim was almost certainly lying dead in his bedroom.

Edward Tenniswood claimed he and India Chipchase twice had "loving" sex at his squalid home and that he only put his hands around her neck at the 20-year-old's direction.

He told Birmingham Crown Court she gave an "exhaling gasp" during what he described as "vigorous love-making" at his rented terrace house in Northampton.

The 52-year-old then claimed to have "blacked-out" with fatigue next to Ms Chipchase and initially thought nothing of her unresponsiveness when he woke many hours later.

Instead of getting help, Tenniswood described how he went to "get some air" and bought a kebab before spending 22 hours in a nearby Ibis hotel drinking lager until his arrest.

Tenniswood is said by the Crown to have "raped and throttled" the young woman after chancing upon her outside the town's NB's nightclub in the early hours of January 30, and taking her in a cab back to his house.

Demonstrating to jurors by placing his own hands around his neck, he said: "She puts her hands on top of my hands and moves my hands down to her neck."

He added: "It's a very organic thing."

Tenniswood said that she then moved his hands away, but claimed on a second occasion Ms Chipchase had allowed him to continue.

He described afterwards being "very fatigued", rolling to the side of the mattress - which he described as being covered in five-day-old bedding - next to his victim.

He said: "I guess I effectively blacked-out, possibly from a mixture of fatigue and drink."

Tenniswood said that he woke to go to the toilet at one point and "cuddled up to her" on the mattress on his return, but still failed to notice anything amiss.

It was well into the Saturday evening when Tenniswood got up and - after drinking a glass of cheap red wine and lighting a cigarette - thought there was "something wrong".

He told the jury: "I said 'India, darling?'

"I just went over and looked at her. It just didn't seem right.

"I just sort of nudged her shoulder."

Despite his concerns, he then got dressed and went through Ms Chipchase's handbag, claiming he was looking for some sign of a pre-existing medical condition which might have put her in a "diabetic coma".

He also told jurors he feared she may have had a "stroke or brain injury" from a drunken fall.

Tenniswood told how he downed another drink of wine and "panic set in".

Continuing his account, he said he ruled out checking for her pulse and instead had "another swing of wine".

Tenniswood then explained how he put Ms Chipchase's clutch handbag and boots "neatly" together in another room, and decided to leave the house with the young woman still inside.

He added: "I was completely convinced she was still alive, and in some form of coma."

Tenniswood continued: "I made some decisions; to get some air, get food, and calm down."

He said: "I went to get a kebab, something to eat."

However, before leaving, Tenniswood went to bedroom and re-clothed Ms Chipchase to be "respectful" to her.

He changed the mattress bedding, which had a blood-stain from a wound on Ms Chipchase's head, turned a light on and turned up the volume on the bedroom radio.

Later, Tenniswood told jurors: "I could easily have fallen in love with her."

He also claimed the two "just clicked" when they met, snapping his fingers in the witness box as he said it.

"It was spooky how well we clicked," he continued.

Tenniswood also said: "I am one of the world's great optimists and that's why I allowed my judgment to be so clouded - that India wasn't dead and it was something she could wake up from."

Asked if he ever been NB's before the night he chanced upon Ms Chipchase he replied "not in 10 years".

But the jury were then shown CCTV from outside the nightclub from Saturday January 16 which the prosecution alleged to show unemployed Tenniswood being refused entry.

Tenniswood told the jurors: "It cannot possibly be me."

He also explained that a kitchen knife found in his rucksack when he was arrested in the Ibis hotel in Marefair was carried out of "paranoia" at being mugged, but denied having a blade on him when he met Ms Chipchase.

Earlier, he claimed Ms Chipchase and he hugged while looking at their reflections in his bedroom mirror "like we were posing for a selfie", and that the young woman had kissed him first.

When police officers broke down Tenniswood's door on the afternoon of Sunday January 31, they found Ms Chipchase dead.

Opening the trial last week, the Crown's QC Christopher Donnellan 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 anymore."

Tenniswood denies the charges. The trial continues.

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