Wed, 04 Jul 2012
A killer concealed the body of his girlfriend under the floorboards of his lounge before constructing a "charade" to cover his tracks, a court has heard.
Stephen Devesey, 21, is alleged to have murdered Nicole Cartmell, 18, nearly three weeks before her body was found at his home in Handsworth, Birmingham.
He denies murdering her on a day between 10 February and 2 March 2011.
Crown court jurors heard allegations he used her bank card four times between her death and her body being found.
Mr Devesey killed Miss Cartmell by asphyxiating her shortly after she made a "frightened" 999 call on 10 February last year, it was alleged.
Opening the case against him to the jury at Birmingham Crown Court, prosecutor Timothy Barnes QC claimed Mr Devesey had repeatedly lied to police, Miss Cartmell's mother and other people about her whereabouts.
Mr Devesey sent a text message to the teenager's mother to make it look as if he was trying to contact her daughter, the court heard.
Mr Barnes said: "He said he would go and look for her in West Bromwich.
"Of course it was all a charade."
Mr Barnes said the defendant prised up some floorboards and "dropped the body into the cellar some 7ft below".
The prosecutor added: "He covered the body with layers of clothing and rubbish and there over successive weeks the body decomposed, giving rise to unpleasant smells which the defendant tried to mask with the aid of incense sticks."
Mr Devesey is said to have flirted with a woman he met on Facebook in the days after the alleged murder, changing his relationship status from "engaged" to "it's complicated".
Following his initial arrest on suspicion of fraud in relation to the bank withdrawals, a search of Mr Devesey's housing association property led to the discovery of Miss Cartmell's purse, driving licence, and a coat she was seen wearing.
Mr Devesey was then arrested on suspicion of murder and made no comment in police interviews after initially being taken to a psychiatric unit.
Miss Cartmell was living with her mother when she disappeared after disagreements with her boyfriend.
Mr Barnes said the jury would have to consider three issues in the case - whether the defendant was responsible for killing Miss Cartmell, if he intended to kill her or cause her serious bodily harm, and whether he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time.
The jury heard Miss Cartmell had been living at a hostel and at her mother's home in West Bromwich before giving birth to a child by Mr Devesey about a month before she died.
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