Jury out in case of Brighton mother found smothered at country cottage

Deborah Levey

Deborah Levey

First published in News
Last updated

UPDATE: Jurors who have retired in the trial of a driver accused of murdering a Brighton mother at her country cottage after trying to win her back have been told to return tomorrow after failing to reach a verdict.

Phillip Brown is alleged to have smothered former lover Deborah Levey, 44, at Cherry Tree Cottage in East Ashling, near Chichester.

Prosecutors claimed he set about trying to shift suspicion from himself in the hours afterwards by sending her bogus text messages raising concern at her whereabouts.

Lewes Crown Court heard that Brown was "possessive and controlling" of twice-married mother-of-one Ms Levey who told friends he had a "Jekyll and Hyde" character.

Prosecutor Mark Dennis QC said he would proclaim his love for her but also send "cold and nasty'' messages, including one to her employer falsely alleging she had committed misconduct at work.

Two months before she was found dead, Ms Levey ended her "passionate and highly charged" relationship with Brown who took it badly and pursued her in the weeks that followed, Mr Dennis told jurors.

The body of Brighton-born Ms Levey, a care scheme manager, was found dead on her sofa just after 7.15am on January 28 last year by a colleague who called on her to travel to London together for work.

A post-mortem examination was unable to find evidence that Ms Levey died from natural causes but it did rule out suggestions she may have self-harmed or overdosed.

Mr Dennis said there were "tell-tale signs" that death was by asphyxia.

He added it would have taken a few moments to suffocate Ms Levey, particularly if she was taken by surprise, and that there was "little doubt" that the intention was to kill or cause very serious harm.

Brown, aged in his mid 40s, from the Selsey area of West Sussex, denies murder. Giving evidence, Brown said he "loved her to bits".

And up until their relationship had hit a rocky patch, he said they had talked about getting married and having children together.

He told the court: "I loved her to bits. I couldn't imagine spending a day without her." He said he was "angry and annoyed'' at being accused of her murder, saying he was not at her home on the day she was killed.

The court heard about text messages he sent her before she was found dead, in which he had called her a "slut" and had "hoped she would die".

He said there was "no excuse" for sending the texts to her, saying they were "worst thing I could have ever done".

Brown also admitted anonymously emailing her employer, falsely accusing Ms Levey of breaching a confidentiality agreement.

Asked to explain why he had sent the email, Brown said: "I can't really explain the reasons. I was angry and upset about the whole state of our relationship."

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