Hardcore pornography downloaded from the internet is a "fact of life" in 21st Century Britain, the Jane Longhurst murder trial heard.

Sussex Police computer expert Dave Reed told the court it was all perfectly legal.

Graham Coutts, who denies murdering Miss Longhurst, downloaded more than 5,000 pornographic images including violent sex before and after he allegedly strangled her, Lewes Crown Court heard yesterday.

But defence counsel Jeremy Gold QC said Coutts had committed no crime by having the pictures. Accessing or downloading child porn was an offence but there were no laws applying to images of adults.

Copies of pictures downloaded by Coutts lay on the bench in front of Mr Gold as he said: "Anyone looking over my shoulder at these pictures now might think they were disgusting but I am not doing anything illegal.

"Whether I was doing anything wrong is a matter of personal taste.

"It is widely known a very substantial amount of traffic on the internet involves people searching out porn.

"If I went into homes across the country and looked at everybody's computer, a very substantial number would have hardcore pornography."

Even Miss Longhurst's computer contained some "soft core" pictures.

Angus Marshall, a computer expert with Hull University, said he found about a dozen "top-shelf" glamour pictures of naked women on her PC, although they were nothing like strangulation pictures he found on Coutts' computer.

The court heard how Coutts downloaded violent sex pictures on the eve of Miss Longhurst's disappearance on March 14 last year and again just days before her burning body was found in woodland near Pulborough on April 19.

Police arrested Coutts for a second time after Miss Longhurst's belongings were discovered at a Brighton self-storage warehouse rented out by him.

Coutts, a 35-year-old guitarist and salesman of Waterloo Street, Hove, broke down in the dock as the jury listened to the statements he made to police at the second series of interviews.

He told officers he did not want to talk about Miss Longhurst, a 31-year-old teacher of Shaftesbury Road, Brighton.

Detective Sergeant Dobs O'Brien said Coutts had been calm and composed at the earlier interview but was quiet and "appeared to cry at times" when he was quizzed the second time.

Coutts was asked: "Did you kill Jane Longhurst, Graham? Was it Jane in the boot of your car?"

Coutts said: "I can't talk about it. It is too upsetting to talk about."

Police asked: "What happened on March 14? Did you meet her in the day? Did you arrange to go swimming with Jane?"

Coutts provided no information from dozens of questions: "How did Jane's bank card get into the self-storage unit? Did you strangle Jane? What is preventing you from talking?

"Did you put those tights round Jane's neck? Did you strangle her with those tights? How did her body come to be on fire? Did you set fire to Jane's body?"

Mr O'Brien said to Coutts: "We can't turn back the clock. Jane is dead. What has happened has happened." Coutts still did not provide answers.

He was asked why he had cleaned his Rover car the day after Miss Longhurst's burning body was found.

He had told his partner Lisa Stephens there had been a "spillage" in his hatchback.

Police later found traces of blood in the vehicle.

Again, Coutts was asked if he had killed Miss Longhurst.

He replied: "I don't know what happened. I can't talk about it." Coutts made no response during the rest of the interview.

Under cross-examination, Mr O'Brien agreed Coutts had no criminal convictions.

Fellow teacher Nozad Nawras went to Jane's home shortly before she disappeared. He had offered to help them decorate.

He told the court he noticed a change in Jane's demeanour and said she was having a hard time at work.

He described an "atmosphere" at the house and said her boyfriend, Malcolm Sentence, looked a "bit cheesed off".

Mr Nawras said: "I felt Malcolm may be a bit low. I'd turned up in a flashy new car and I was doing a job he couldn't do. It was my impression he may have felt a bit jealous."

The trial continues.