Devon

'Controlling' former partner dumped body by train tracks

Gergana Prodanova Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption The court heard Gergana Prodanova found it hard to 'break free' from her former partner.

A mother was killed by her "controlling and jealous" former partner who stuffed her body into a suitcase before dumping it near train tracks, a court has heard.

Gergana Prodanova, 38, went missing last year from the home she shared with her ex-partner, Kostadin Kostov.

Kostov, 42, appeared at Exeter Crown Court accused of murdering her.

He denies killing the mother of their three children, whose body was found nearly two weeks after she disappeared.

More on the suitcase murder trial and other Devon news

'Complex and troubling relationship'

Simon Laws, QC, prosecuting, said the couple had been in a relationship for 15 years prior to Ms Prodanova moving to Exeter, Devon, in December 2015.

"It was a complex and very troubling relationship," said Mr Laws.

"He had used physical violence against her on a number of occasions.

"He was a jealous and controlling man. He would lose his temper, especially when he had had a drink, and he would hit her."

New relationship

The jury heard Ms Prodanova moved to England on her own, leaving Kostov and her children at home in Bulgaria and soon formed a relationship with another man.

Mr Laws said Kostov flew to the UK on April 21 2016 and moved in with Ms Prodanova in a small flat on Mount Pleasant Road in the city.

He said the prosecution case was that she was killed there on the evening of August 4 by Kostov because he was jealous of her new relationship.

The court heard Ms Prodanova's colleagues at the Great Western Hotel were surprised at her disappearance.

"Then messages were sent by text and Facebook that looked as if they came from her," Mr Laws says.

"Those messages were intended to explain her sudden absence.

Mr Laws said Kostov told police that Ms Prodanova was alive the last time he saw her, that she had received a phone call from her sister to say that her mother was dead and had left the flat.

The trial continues.

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