A man strangled a special needs teacher to satisfy a "perverted sexual interest" in violence towards women, a court heard today.

Graham Coutts allegedly murdered 31-year-old Jane Longhurst and then hid her body for weeks, an Old Bailey jury was told.

The body of Miss Longhurst was discovered after he took it to a secluded spot and set fire to it, the court heard.

Coutts, 39, of Waterloo Street, Hove, denies murder claiming her death was an accident. The jury was told the case is a re-trial.

He is alleged to have murdered Miss Longhurst in March 2003.

Philip Katz QC, prosecuting, said: "Graham Coutts killed Jane Longhurst and he did it in order to satisfy a very long-standing and perverted sexual interest in violence to women and in particular the killing of women by strangulation."

Miss Longhurst was living in Brighton at the time, the court heard.

Mr Katz warned jurors that they were likely to find parts of the case extremely unpleasant and quite shocking.

He said: "The clear inference is that he (Coutts) had sexual intercourse as she was dying or just after she had died.

"He did not immediately dispose of the body but instead kept the body somewhere completely unknown to anyone but him for a period of about 11 days, possibly somewhere in the same house where he was living with his then partner."

Coutts then moved the body to a storage unit in Brighton which he had hired in a false name, the court heard.

Mr Katz said: "There he kept that body for almost another month. He was visiting that body in that storage unit regularly every few days during that month.

"Ultimately staff working in that business, as you would expect, began to be extremely concerned about the smell that was coming from that storage unit."

Coutts decided to remove the body to a secluded spot in woods called Wiggonholt Common near Pulborough, he added.

He poured petrol over the body and set fire to it, but the blaze was spotted by a member of the public who was driving past, the court was told.

Mr Katz said Coutts repeatedly misled police after Miss Longhurst went missing.

He told the court: "Her family, her partner, her friends were all frantically trying to understand why this woman had just disappeared.

"The defendant was amongst those who were spoken to by police. He lied over and over and over again about not knowing where she was."

Miss Longhurst was originally from Reading.

The trial continues.