Christina Abbotts 'hit in self-defence in sex game'

Christina Abbotts Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Christina Abbotts had been housesitting for a friend at a flat in Crawley

A City banker accused of bludgeoning a woman to death with a pestle told a court he acted in self-defence, as she strangled him during a sex game.

Zahid Naseem denies murdering Christina Abbotts who was found dead at a flat in West Sussex in May after being struck 13 times on the back of the head.

Giving evidence at Lewes Crown Court earlier he admitted for the first time inflicting the injuries.

He said she was strangling him and he did "everything possible" to stop her.

Remembered events

He is accused of intentionally repeatedly striking the 29-year-old with a pestle during a champagne and cocaine-fuelled attack, while she was housesitting for a friend at a flat in Crawley.

The 48-year-old had previously claimed he woke up to find her dead and had "no idea" what happened, but said he started remembering the events of the night in September.

West Midlands-born "socialite" Ms Abbotts led a party lifestyle in London and secretly worked as an escort, advertising her services on under the pseudonym Tilly Pexton.

Jurors heard Ms Abbotts listed BDSM (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism) on her profile under services she provided.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption A black pestle was identified as the murder weapon, the court heard

Speaking from the witness box Mr Naseem told the court strangulation was something she suggested as "fun" after trying it with other clients.

He said: "While it was still in the silly stage I didn't have any issue with it.

"At some stage she did hold my neck and she didn't let go.

"I did try and push her off and I couldn't push her off and all of a sudden I realised I was beginning to choke. I was being strangled to death.

"I just reached out and grabbed the first thing that came to hand and stopped her.

"I think I just did everything possible to stop her from strangling me to death. I believe if I had not taken the actions I did, I would not be alive today."

Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption Zahid Naseem said Ms Abbotts held his neck "and didn't let go"

For the best part of a decade he hired sex workers and no other escorts have accused him of violence, jurors were told.

Naseem was discovered by emergency services, lying on the sofa in the next room "feigning unconsciousness", according to prosecutors.

In recordings of police interviews previously played to jurors, Mr Naseem, of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, said he thought about calling for help but then thought, "I can't see anything positive coming out of any of this".

During cross-examination, prosecutor Christopher Tehrani dismissed his evidence "a pack of lies" and added: "You carried on relentlessly and you bludgeoned her to death."

The trial continues.

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