Kayleigh Dunning Portsmouth murder trial: Woman put up 'spirited' defence in 'prolonged attack'

A WOMAN put up a ‘spirited’ defence as she was repeatedly hit with a heavy weapon before being stabbed, a murder trial has been told.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 2:45 pm

Giving evidence today at Portsmouth Crown Court, pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said Kayleigh Dunning suffered a ‘prolonged attack’ in ‘three phases’.

Mark Brandford, 49, is charged with murdering Ms Dunning, 32, after proposing to her overnight on December 16-17 in 2019 at his home in Kingston Crescent, North End.

Jurors have resumed hearing the trial two weeks after a Covid outbreak at the prison where Brandford is being held. He denies murder.

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Police investigating the death of Kayleigh Dunning, and the crowbar found by police in the investigation

Brandford is also accused of sending naked images and video of Ms Dunning to her friends and family, and of setting up a Facebook profile in her name using such images.

Today Dr Purdue said: ‘Her death was brought about by a series of blunt injuries to the head and stab wounds to the neck, culminating in overwhelming blood loss and damage to two major blood vessels.

He added: ‘The pattern of injuries suggest a prolonged attack in three phases, beginning with blows from a blunt instrument which Kayleigh Dunning was able to block or ward off with her arms at the cost of multiple (injuries to her arms).’

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CCTV shown to a murder trial jury at Portsmouth Crown Court shows Mark Brandford at Betfred in Arundel Street when he gets a call from police about Kayleigh Dunning who had been reported missing on December 17

He said she was capable of defending the blows at the time. ‘After that phase one or more blows reached her head,’ he said.

‘That would have impaired her state of consciousness thereafter.’

Dr Purdue said at this point she would have been rendered ‘immobilised’ after being hit on the head ‘at least 10 times causing multiple fractures’.

He added: ‘The final phase of the attack comprises repeated stab wounds to the neck - some superficial, some deep - one that completely severed the two primary carotid arteries.

The crowbar recovered by police investigating the death of Kayleigh Dunning in Portsmouth. Mark Brandford is on trial at Portsmouth Crown Court accused of her murder. He denies the charge. Picture: Hampshire police

‘This caused catastrophic blood loss which would have been rapidly fatal.’

There were no defensive wounds caused by a knife, suggesting Ms Dunning was immobile when she was stabbed, Dr Purdue said.

He added the blunt force injuries would have required ‘severe force’, and could have been caused by a ‘heavy instrument’ that was ‘rod like’ and ‘probably having a corner at one end’.

Dr Purdue told police in February 2020 that a metal chisel or ‘some kind of crowbar’ could have been used among other objects. Officers recovered a crowbar in March.

There was ‘no way’ a litter picker recovered by police could have caused the injuries, he said.

Dr Purdue, who told jurors of 35 injuries, said one of three close-together stab wounds of varying lengths to the neck severed the two carotid arteries. It was ‘probably a knife’ with a blade of at least 6cm that caused the stab wounds, he said.

Sarah Jones QC, defending, asked if Ms Dunning would be ‘screaming and shouting’ at the time of the first blows in a ‘fruitless but spirited’ defence.

Dr Purdue agreed the condition of her body gave no clue as to whether she had been murdered before or after 5am. Brandford left his home at 5.17am.

No yellow paint was found on her body, Dr Purdue said. There was flaking yellow paint on the crowbar found by police.

A toxicologist found amphetamine, a cocaine breakdown product and the active ingredient of cannabis in Ms Dunning’s blood. Morphine was found in her urine.

Jurors heard morphine could indicate heroin had been taken, if not the pain killer diamorphine.

Brandford also denies a charge of revenge porn.


A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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