A musician found guilty of strangling teacher Jane Longhurst faces a wait for a Court of Appeal ruling on the safety of his murder conviction.

Graham Coutts, 35, of Waterloo Street, Hove, was in court yesterday when the three judges reserved their ruling at the end of a two-day hearing.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, said: "We will give our judgment as soon as we can. There are some general points of wide importance."

Coutts was accused of keeping 31-year-old Miss Longhurst's body in a box in his shed for 11 days before moving it to the Big Yellow storage unit in Lewes Road, Brighton, for a further two weeks.

One of the appeal grounds is a submission that the trial judge, Richard Brown, failed to direct the jury that it was open to them to return an alternative verdict of manslaughter.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Coutts, arguing that the murder conviction was unsafe, told the Appeal Court court: "The judge decided not to leave the alternative verdict of manslaughter though the Crown conceded there was a legal basis for it.

"There clearly was a viable basis for a verdict of manslaughter both on the basis that the appellant's unlawful and dangerous act of tightening the ligature led to death, and on the basis of gross negligence."

But John Kelsey-Fry, QC, for the Crown, said Judge Brown was not wrong not to leave the alternative verdict of manslaughter to the jury.

He said there had been a "compelling circumstantial case of murder".

As prosecuting counsel, he had taken the view at the trial that the case was best presented to the jury as an uncluttered contest between murder and accident, "knowing that if the case failed on that basis, then the defendant would be totally acquitted".

Special needs teacher Miss Longhurst's burning, naked body was found on Wiggonholt Common, near Pulborough, on April 19 last year.

Coutts denied murder but a jury at Lewes Crown Court found him guilty in February this year. He was jailed for 30 years.

Coutts argued Miss Longhurst was strangled by accident during consensual sex.

The court heard how Coutts was obsessed with violent sex web sites including those showing necrophilia and strangulation sex.