Murder accused ‘unaware’ victim was dead despite being 'cuddled up to her'

A former bookkeeper, 52, accused of raping and murdering a barmaid has told a court he had not realised his alleged victim might be dead, despite being “cuddled up to her”.

Edward Tenniswood claimed he and India Chipchase twice had “loving” sex at his home and he only put his hands around her neck at the 20-year-old’s direction.

He told Birmingham Crown Court she gave an “exhaling gasp” during what he described as “vigorous love-making” at his rented house in Northampton.

He then claimed to have “blacked out” with fatigue next to Ms Chipchase and initially thought nothing of her unresponsiveness when he woke many hours later.

Mr Tenniswood is said by the Crown to have “raped and throttled” the woman after chancing upon her outside a nightclub in the early hours of January 30, and taking her back to his house.

Demonstrating to jurors by placing his hands around his own neck, he said: “She puts her hands on top of my hands and moves my hands down to her neck.” He added: “It’s a very organic thing.”

Mr Tenniswood said she then moved his hands away, but claimed on a second occasion Ms Chipchase had allowed him to continue.

He said afterwards he was “very fatigued” and rolled to the side of the mattress next to his victim. He said: “I guess I effectively blacked out, possibly from a mixture of fatigue and drink.”

Mr Tenniswood said that he woke to go to the toilet at one point and “cuddled up to her” on the mattress on his return, but still failed to notice anything amiss.

It was well into the Saturday evening when Mr Tenniswood got up and — after drinking a glass of cheap red wine and lighting a cigarette — thought there was “something wrong”.

He told the jury: “I said ‘India, darling?’ I just went over and looked at her. It just didn’t seem right. I just sort of nudged her shoulder.”

Despite his concerns, he then got dressed and went through Ms Chipchase’s handbag, claiming he was looking for some sign of a pre-existing medical condition which might have put her in a “diabetic coma”.

Mr Tenniswood told how he downed another drink of wine and “panic set in”.

“I was completely convinced she was still alive, and in some form of coma.”

He continued: “I made some decisions; to get some air, get food, and calm down.”

However, before leaving, Mr Tenniswood re-clothed Ms Chipchase to be “respectful”.

He changed the bedding, which had a blood-stain from a wound on Ms Chipchase’s head, turned a light on, and turned up the volume on theradio.

Mr Tenniswood said: “I was absolutely convinced she would gain consciousness while I was out.”

When police officers broke down Mr Tenniswood’s door on Sunday, January 31, they found Ms Chipchase dead.

Opening the trial last week, the Crown’s QC Christopher Donnellan said: “It is very likely his motive was sexual and when she resisted him he was determined to have sex and he grabbed her around the throat and squeezed.

“He held her until she was unable to resist any more.”

Mr Tenniswood denies the charges.


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