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Murder trial latest: 'The truth is you battered her...' – prosecution

Defendant: 'It was like time stopped...it didn't seem real'

John Garvey

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Donations pour in for children of Simone Grainger

A MAN accused of strangling and battering his wife to death has told jurors: "It was like time stopped...it didn't seem real."

Thirty-two-year-old Steven Grainger was giving his version of events from the witness box at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday.

A packed public gallery listened intently as he denied the prosecution's claim that he smashed wife Simone's skull with a saucepan before strangling her to death and wrapping her lifeless body in a rug as their daughter slept upstairs.

He admitted killing his childhood sweetheart and the mother of his two children, but insisted it was in self defence as she attacked him with a pair of scissors at their Calcot home.

Mr Grainger told the jury: "Everything I'd loved was gone."

Earlier, the court heard how Mr Grainger killed his wife before trying to buy cocaine and calling prostitutes as her body lay in the kitchen of the home in Windsor Way.

The couple had a tempestuous relationship and regularly quarreled over Mr Grainger’s cocaine and alcohol binges during which he would disappear for days at a time.

On the eve of her murder on November 4 last year, Mrs Grainger had enjoyed a “girls’ night in” at her home but also invited her husband to stay over.

When her girlfriends went home, 30-year-old Mrs Grainger went upstairs to bed but her husband stayed downstairs.

On the fateful night, the court has heard, she sent him a text message in the early hours which said: “What are you doing, weirdo? I don’t trust you.”

He texted back: “I’m not doing nothing. I’ve just got a tight chest and I’m restless.”

Taking up the story, Mr Grainger told jurors his wife had come downstairs in a rage, adding: "She ran at me. It was happening really quickly. I was laid on the sofa."

During a brief skirmish, he said, "I pushed her away and remember her falling backwards...there was a bit of a bang."

Mr Grainger said: "She jumped up, started swearing and ran into the kitchen. She came back into the front room; she had a pair of scissors in her hand. She came charging at me with them and basically tried to stab me with them. I tried to knock them out of her hand, which didn't work.

"I ended up stood behind her with my left hand trying to grab the scissors off her, my right arm round here [gesturing at his neck]. I wanted her to stop. I was scared. I thought she was going to stab me - she was trying to swing round and scratch at me. We were weaving about in a circular motion. She felt heavy...as I let go she fell forward. It was a minute, start to finish."

Mr Grainger said he left here there, still swearing, on the floor and went to bed himself.

When he came downstairs in the morning, he said, he realised she was dead.

He added: "It was like time stopped. It just didn't seem real."

Asked why he hadn't called emergency services for help, he replied: "I was being a coward. I was scared. I was suicidal. I wanted to get as much drugs as I could and kill myself."

He said that when his dealer initially didn't answer the phone he rang prostitutes because he had heard they could provide cocaine at odd hours.

But prosecutor Francis Fitzgibbon, in cross examining Mr Grainger, pointed out he had been known to consume several bags of cocaine in one sitting and asked: "How was one bag going to kill you?"

Mr Grainger then suggested he was going to take it and then hang himself at his mother's house but that, ultimately, he had been unable to do so.

Mr Fitzgibbon then suggested Mr Grainger had texted the prostitutes because he wanted sex, pointing out he had asked them: "You free? Thirty minutes."

Mr Grainger replied: "No, that's not true - I'm hardly going to have a party, am I?"

He told the court a friend then answered his texts and provided him with a bag of cocaine which he collected after dropping off his daughter with family.

Mr Grainger continued: "Everything I loved was gone."

After driving to his mother's house where he found himself unable to take his own life by hanging himself in the loft, Mr Grainger said he spent the night beside a railway track.

During the prosecution's cross examination, Mr Fitzgibbon dismissed Mr Grainger's version of events and said: "Your account simply can't account for all the injuries she sustained. The truth is you battered her, isn't it? You smashed her head with, or against, something that was flat and hard a number of times, didn't you? And in doind so caused multiple injuries to her head.

"You strangled her so the supply of oxygen to her brain was restricted."

Mr Grainger replied: "No, that's not true."

Mr Fitzgibbon persisted: "A neighbour heard three thumps, then a pause, then three or more thumps. That was the sound of you smashing Simone's head against something, wasn't it?"

Mr Grainger replied: "No. The only thing I can think is we've got wooden stairs.

Mr Grainger denies murder and manslaughter, claiming he acted in self defence throughout.

The trial continues.