Portsmouth murder accused Mark Brandford tells court he 'couldn't believe it' when seeing Kayleigh Dunning dead

A BOYFRIEND accused of bludgeoning his girlfriend to death after proposing to her admitted he was angry at being called her former partner’s name - but said he ‘couldn’t believe it’ when he discovered her dead bloodsoaked body.

By Steve Deeks
Thursday, 11th February 2021, 1:25 pm

Mark Brandford, 49, denies murdering his girlfriend Kayleigh Dunning after she was found beaten to her death at his Kingston Crescent flat in North End overnight on December 16-17, 2019.

Brandford, giving evidence at Portsmouth Crown Court, told jurors there was ‘blood everywhere’ and Ms Dunning was ‘cold’ after he returned to his residence on the evening of December 17 to discover the 32-year-old motionless on the bed.

‘I went around the corner and she was laying down with blood everywhere. I jumped backwards,’ the Colas road sweeper told the court.

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

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‘I phoned the number for the police but couldn’t get through so phoned 999 and said “come quick”.

‘I couldn’t believe it. There was blood everywhere.

‘(The operator) told me to get her off the bed but I couldn’t because she was heavy and cold.’

Brandford said he finally moved Ms Dunning onto the floor and carried out CPR.

Asked by defence barrister Sarah Jones QC if he knew she was dead, the defendant said: ‘Yeah definitely. When I put my cheek to her face there was something sticking out from her mouth.’

Replying to suggestions by an attending paramedic that he was seen putting his fingers down his throat to make himself sick, Brandford said: ‘I put my hands over my face - I gagged. I was trying to catch my breath.’

Brandford, responding to the accusing he feigned losing his balance by the paramedic, said: ‘I lost my balance. I was trying to get my balance as they kept falling down when I was doing CPR.’

Brandford was then asked by Ms Jones: ‘Did you kill Kayleigh Dunning?’

He replied: ‘No I didn’t.’

‘Do you know who did?’ the barrister said.

‘No I don’t,’ Brandford said.

Meanwhile, Brandford told jurors he had proposed to Ms Dunning after she asked him to ‘make an honest woman out of her’ earlier in December.

A week later on December 16 Brandford booked a registry office for March 10, 2020, and bought balloons.

That evening Ms Dunning accepted his proposal for marriage. ‘She was chuffed to bits,’ he said.

He told the court the pair watched four films but there was no discussion over Ms Dunning’s former partner Dean Drooney, who she had been meeting sexually every week.

‘I didn’t want to talk about other blokes. It was our day,’ Brandford said.

Just before 5am on the morning of December 17, a ‘drowsy’ Ms Dunning accidentally referred to Brandford using Mr Drooney’s name.

‘I said: “For **** sake my name is not Dean,’ Brandford told the court. ‘Kayleigh said: “Sorry force of habit.”

‘She was very apologetic.’

The pair hugged and kissed before Brandford left for work shortly after. ‘Have a good day, I love you,’ Ms Dunning said.

Brandford said that was the last time he saw her alive.

Amid concerns for her welfare later in the day - with Brandford receiving a call from police - he told jurors he was not overly concerned. ‘I thought she might be with Dean or talking to her parents about the proposal,’ he said.

Brandford also denies a charge of revenge porn after allegedly setting up a fake Facebook profile with intimate images of Ms Dunning.


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