A musician convicted of murdering teacher Jane Longhurst is petitioning the House of Lords for a retrial.

Graham Coutts, 35, of Waterloo Street, Hove, who strangled Miss Longhurst to satisfy his perverted sexual fantasies, last week failed in his Appeal Court hearing but his minimum sentence was cut from 30 to 26 years.

The judges refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords but certified the case raised issues of general public importance which would enable defence lawyers to apply direct to the law lords for permission to appeal.

The public interest issue centred on whether Judge Richard Brown, who presided at Coutts' trial at Lewes Crown Court last February, should have given the jury the alternative of manslaughter before they retired to consider their verdict.

Solicitors for Coutts today confirmed they would be asking the Lords for permission to appeal.

Looh-Chih Wang, acting for Coutts, said: "We are petitioning the House of Lords.

"They have the same powers as the Court of Appeal and could reject the petition or allow the appeal and order a retrial."

Mr Wang said the process could take some time and there was no indication when the Lords would hear the petition.

The Appeal Court's ruling was announced by Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf and insiders said it would be unusual for the law lords to overturn his ruling.

Jane's mother Liz said she was confident the law lords would reject the petition. She said: "Lord Woolf sits in the Lords and he is a very determined man."

Mrs Longhurst, 73, said she believed Graham Coutts should spend the rest of his life behind bars.

She said she feared the musician would have killed again if he had not been jailed for life.

After Coutts lost his appeal, she said: "I am mightily relieved...I feel justice has been done and has been seen to be done.

"I think Graham Coutts could have become a serial killer.

"It was nipped in the bud but, unfortunately, he did murder one person, who was my daughter.

"The only safe place for him is behind bars.

"I think he should be locked up for life because I think he is a potentially a very dangerous person."

Coutts kept 31-year-old Miss Longhurst's body in a box in his shed for 11 days before moving it to a storage unit in Brighton for a further two weeks. The special needs teacher's burning naked body was found on Wiggonholt Common, near Pulborough, West Sussex, on April 19, 2003.

Coutts, obsessed with internet images of necrophilia and strangulation sex, denied murder and claimed Miss Longhurst died accidentally when he tied a pair of tights round her neck during consensual sex.