A CAMPER has described hearing a man threatening to silence a woman just hours before she was found dead in her tent.

Christopher Cole is accused of smothering his girlfriend Sarah Clayton to death while at the Buckle camp site in Seaford.

It is alleged the 31-year-old warned her: “If you don’t shut up, I will shut you up.”

Witnesses described hearing “choking noises” from inside the couple’s tent.

At Lewes Crown Court, witnesses have started to give evidence over the alleged killing in May 2018.

Among those staying at the campsite was Charlotte Wood who was completing the South Downs Way with friend Danielle Callahan.

Both women allegedly heard Cole warning Ms Clayton, aged 21.

The Argus: The scene of the alleged murder at the Buckle campsite in Seaford in May 2018The scene of the alleged murder at the Buckle campsite in Seaford in May 2018

Ms Wood’s evidence is important because she sent text messages to friend Chris Luckham at the time of the incident at 1.30am on May 13.

She wrote: “There is this couple next to us who have woken us up beating each other up screaming and smashing their stuff up and the bloke has said 'if you don’t shut up I’ll make you shut up' and now she’s gone quiet."

In a later message she wrote: "I think he’s strangling her. She’s choking.”

Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, said there is evidence that Cole was having a row with Ms Clayton and then killed her to silence her.

Witnesses apparently heard Ms Clayton shouting abuse at Cole before the sound of pans clanging inside the tent.

In messages sent at the time, Charlotte Wood wrote: “It’s gone very quiet apart from her making very strange choking noises.”

Two minutes later she wrote: “Now it’s gone dead silent from her and he’s crying.”

Then four minutes later she wrote: “He is saying she’s asleep but only you fall asleep that quick.

"She can’t go from screaming the whole field down to asleep in a matter of seconds.”

Mr Atkinson told the jury: “You will want to consider the evidence of these eyewitnesses with care.

The Argus: Lewes Crown CourtLewes Crown Court

“The prosecution suggests that a number of common themes emerge from their independent recollections of what they saw and especially what they heard.

“On the night of her death, the defendant and Ms Clayton were arguing, abusively and aggressively.

“In the course of that argument, as recorded in a text message from Wood at the time, the defendant had told her to shut up or he would shut her up.

“Thereafter, there were sounds that sounded like Ms Clayton was choking, and sounds from her that sounded muffled, as if by a pillow.”

The Argus: Christopher Cole is accused of the murder of Sarah Clayton in SeafordChristopher Cole is accused of the murder of Sarah Clayton in Seaford

Ms Wood and Ms Callahan reportedly heard Cole sobbing and attempting to perform CPR on Ms Clayton at 6.30am later that morning.

But when they got inside, they said Cole was on the telephone counting with the 999 operator, but was not actually performing the life-saving CPR treatment on Ms Clayton.

Cole, of Clun Road, Wick, said he loved Ms Clatyon and had plans to marry her.

He denies her murder in the tent at the holiday park off Marine Parade, Seaford.

The trial continues.