A MAN accused of murdering his partner while their baby slept in the same room has said he acted out of self-defence.

Ian Paton strangled care worker Kayleigh Hanks, 29, in her flat in London Road, Bexhill, last July, Hove Crown Court heard.

But Paton, 36, said Kayleigh was “volatile” and “explosive” and came at him first with a knife.

Tom Nicholson-Pratt QC, defending Paton, who is on trial for murder, said: “There’s no denying that this was a really, really tragic situation.

“You had two people who loved each other, they had a child together, but obviously there were barriers between them that were insurmountable and now one of them is no longer here.

“The prosecution says it was murder.

“He does not deny that he held her around the throat, but did so only because she attacked him with a knife.

“It is important you look at their wider relationship.

“That weekend didn’t happen in a vacuum.

“There’s a whole build up.”

Mr Nicholson-Pratt said Kayleigh was prone to “switching” emotions.

He said she was “a loving caring individual but was volatile and explosive and could change demeanour just like that, in way that couldn’t always be anticipated”.

The court previously heard Kayleigh had told friends and family that Paton was abusive.

But Mr Nicholson-Pratt said: “If the things Kayleigh was telling people were actually taking place you might think that in all that time it is quite extraordinary no one saw her with any injury.

“You have to be careful about what Kayleigh told other people.

“There’s no doubt these two loved each other under this explosive mix. “

Painting Kayleigh as the aggressor in the relationship Mr Nicholson-Pratt told the court that during an incident a couple of weeks earlier, Kayleigh left Paton with a black eye.

He said: “The next day she sends him a WhatsApp message saying ‘I’m so upset about what I did’.

“The defendant says she went for him and he let it happen but when she went at him with a knife he couldn’t.”

While Kayleigh lay unmoving, Paton said he went to settle seven-month-old baby Ava, who had woken, rather than calling an ambulance.

Prosecutors said he set about cutting himself to look like Kayleigh had attacked him first.

At 12.33am on July 21, Paton called 999 and asked to speak to police, the court was told.

He told the call handler: “She went for me, she had a knife. I restrained her and she is on the floor now.

“I think I restrained her too hard and she’d stopped breathing.”

When police arrived at the flat they found Paton standing in the doorway waiting for them.

Mr Nicholson-Pratt said: “It was an OK evening and then it all kicked off again. Kayleigh went on and on and on. Did Kayleigh or could she have come at him with a knife?”

Paton, of Snowdrop Rise, St Leonards, denies murder.

The trial continues.