London

Murder accused Elizabeth Hart-Browne 'took out life insurance'

A jewellery designer accused of murdering her boyfriend took out life insurance because she feared he was going to kill her, a court heard.

Elizabeth Hart-Browne, 27, denies murdering Stephen Rayner, who was found in a pool of blood outside their flat in Acton, west London, last September.

Ms Hart-Browne told the Old Bailey she had suffered abuse at the hands of her 25-year-old partner.

She said he often took on the persona of notorious criminal Charles Bronson.

Giving evidence, the defendant described an attack in October 2015 when Mr Rayner arrived drunk at the family home and threatened to kill her.

She said: "He had a fascination with Charles Bronson. He would take on that persona sometimes when he was angry.

"His whole accent changed, his whole being would change and I couldn't get through to him."

'I'm going to kill her'

Describing another attack in 2015, the defendant said Mr Rayner punched and bit her after he misunderstood a phone conversation she had with his father.

She said: "He had his hands around my throat.

"His dad was still on the phone when he was attacking me going 'I'm going to kill her, I'm going to kill her'."

Mr Rayner was arrested for the alleged assault days later but, in the meantime, the mother-of-two took out an insurance policy, the court heard.

When asked why she had done so Ms Hart-Browne said: "Because I believed I was in danger of him killing me and I didn't want my kids to be left with nothing."

James Scobie QC, defending, read out an exchange of text messages between the couple in which Ms Hart-Browne said she loved Mr Rayner as he was being sought by police.

However, Ms Hart-Browne explained at the time that she "did love him", adding: "I did not want my family to fall to pieces."

The trial continues.

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