Pauline Smith killing: John Mearns murder trial begins

Gainsborough Drive scene
Image caption Pauline Smith's body was discovered at her flat in Gainsborough Drive

A jury has heard how a Cambridgeshire woman was strangled in her home by a man with whom she had an "on-off relationship".

The body of mother-of-two Pauline Smith, 54, was found at her home in Gainsborough Drive, St Ives, on 26 October last year.

John Mearns, of no fixed address, denies murder but admits manslaughter.

The prosecution opened by describing 53-year-old Mearns as "possessive and controlling".

A post-mortem examination revealed Mrs Smith died of compression to the neck, and that she was strangled for a ''significant" period of time - believed to be a matter of minutes.

'Jealous man'

Allan Mainds, prosecuting, told the court Mrs Smith had separated from her husband earlier in the year.

He said the couple's daughter had found texts from Mr Mearns on her mother's mobile phone.

After she was confronted by her daughter, Mrs Smith had moved out of the marital home and into a flat in St Ives.

The court heard Mr Mearns had "occasionally visited" Mrs Smith at her flat.

The prosecution said Mrs Smith's friends had described her as a caring woman with a "soft, sensitive side", who always wanted to see the best in people.

Mr Mearns was described as a "possessive, jealous and controlling man", who did not cope well when he began to lose control of the relationship.

The trial continues.

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