Graham Coutts today failed in his bid to overturn his conviction for murdering Brighton special needs teacher Jane Longhurst.

The 35-year-old musician, of Waterloo Street, Hove, strangled his 31-year-old victim to fulfil sexual fantasies and kept her body in a box for more than three weeks.

He was obsessed with internet images of necrophilia and strangulation sex and police found thousands of pictures on his computer when they raided his flat.

Coutts was not present in the Appeal Court as the Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf and two other judges upheld his conviction.

The judges did allow his appeal against the length of the 30-year minimum jail term and reduced it by four years to 26.

Jane's mother, Liz Longhurst, 73, said: "Upholding the conviction was the important thing and this is wonderful. It is a huge relief and I hope Jane will know what has happened."

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Dennis, who led the murder inquiry, said: "I am happy the conviction has been justified and Jane's family will not have to endure another trial."

Coutts strangled Miss Longhurst after luring her from the home she shared with her partner Malcolm Sentance in Shaftesbury Road, Brighton.

Mr Sentance, 36, was not at court but was telephoned with the result. Mrs Longhurst said: "He went to work today. He is gradually getting his life back together and he is making progress."

After strangling Miss Longhurst, Coutts kept her body in a box in his shed for 11 days before moving it to a storage unit in Brighton. He visited the body there nine times.

Two weeks later, on April 19 last year, Miss Longhurst's burning, naked body was found on Wiggonholt Common, near Pulborough.

Coutts denied murder, claiming her death was an accident during consensual sex, but a jury refused to believe that Miss Longhurst, a talented viola player who was devoted to Mr Sentance, would have willingly gone with Coutts.

Coutts' appeal argued that Judge Brown should have offered the jury the option of returning a manslaughter verdict.

But Lord Woolf today said: "We find no justification whatsoever for saying the jury would have convicted, even if not satisfied of the appellant's guilt, just to deflect possible criticism for finding him not guilty of any offence.

"Juries are faced every day with doing just that, where there is no possible alternative offence and they in fact acquit defendants of all responsibility for the most horrendous offences."

Miss Longhurst's mother and sister, Sue Barnett, are leading a national campaign, backed by The Argus and MPs, to ban violent sex web sites.