Essex

Kelly Pearce murder trial: Accused Anthony Ayres gives evidence

Kelly Pearce Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Kelly Pearce died after a "frenzied attack" at a flat in Essex

A man accused of the "frenzied" murder of a woman has told a court of the "devastating and horrible" moment he came across her body.

Kelly Pearce, 36, was found in a flat on Canvey Island in Essex on 19 November. She died later in hospital.

Anthony Ayres, 49, of Fairlop Avenue in Canvey, denies murdering her.

Giving evidence at Chelmsford Crown Court, he said he thought Ms Pearce had been shot because there was "blood everywhere". The trial continues.

Last week the jury heard the victim had been stabbed 40 times in the face and neck and bludgeoned to death with a hammer-like weapon.

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It was described as a "frenzied attack" resulting in fatal neck wounds and skull and brain damage.

Cairns Nelson QC, prosecuting, said Ms Pearce, of North Avenue, was murdered in the bathroom of a flat belonging to one of her friends, Joseph Withers.

Image caption The victim was found at a flat in Fairlop Avenue on Canvey Island

Mr Withers, the chief witness for the prosecution, has told the court he was briefly locked out of his flat, while Ms Pearce and Mr Ayres were inside.

Drug 'habit'

When he got back in he claimed to have seen Mr Ayres swinging a hammer.

Mr Ayres, however, told the court he came across her body and thought she had been shot as he could not see specific injuries, just "blood everywhere".

He said he thought Ms Pearce was dead, but then she made a noise as though she was trying to breathe.

"I could hear my heart coming out of my chest, I was hyperventilating," he said.

Mr Ayres said he and Ms Pearce were not in a relationship but admitted they had casual sex.

He also said they both took drugs, although he said he took them casually whereas Ms Pearce "had a habit".

The trial is expected to last another week.

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