Colas road sweeper Mark Brandford, 49, did not kill his partner Kayleigh Dunning at his Kingston Crescent flat in North End overnight on December 16-17, 2019, jurors at Portsmouth Crown Court were told.
Brandford’s lawyer, Sarah Jones, pointed the finger at other men with a ‘grudge’ and ripped into the police for its ‘biased’ investigation as she summed up the case for the defendant.
Ms Jones said: ‘Has the Crown made you sure no one else murdered Kayleigh Dunning? There is no direct evidence Mr Brandford killed her.
‘No one saw it, no one heard it. So the Crown’s case is based on circumstances around it and using arguments to support it.
‘Mark Brandford was their number one suspect and then they trawled through the evidence to support the theory. It’s called confirmation bias.’
She added: ‘Not a soul in the building (where Brandford lived) heard anything in the middle of the night. Surely such a fight would wake the neighbours?’
To support her assertion, the barrister said paramedic Debbie Tobutt, who was first on scene to try and save Ms Dunning and was suspicious of Brandford’s behaviour, was used to bolster the prosecution’s case because it was ‘adverse’ to the defendant.
‘Why didn’t she say those things (about her suspicions of Brandford) to the police officer at the time? When challenged (in court) about her accuracy she became upset at this, not at finding the body,’ Ms Jones said.
Brandford was not ‘faking’ his reaction in front of paramedics and then police either, Ms Jones added. ‘He didn’t play act for you (jurors) as he wasn’t then. He was in quiet bewilderment after the event,’ she said.
Ms Jones went on to highlight how the Crown’s own forensic scientist returned ‘inconclusive’ results on evidence, such as blood spots found on his clothing which, the lawyer said, could have been the result of him pulling Ms Dunning off the bed to do CPR.
The lawyer pointed the finger at other men Ms Dunning had been sexually involved with who had ‘lied to police’ and ‘lost it’ and had alibi’s where they tried to ‘reduce the amount of time that could not be explained’.
‘If the police had investigated (the other men) the same amount of time they investigated Mr Brandford then who knows what they would have found,’ Ms Jones said.
Brandford’s call to the police days before the murder revealing someone had been in his flat was described as an ‘important’ consideration for jurors by Ms Jones.
Referring to the explicit images and videos that were shared, the barrister said ‘anyone could have obtained’ Ms Dunning’s phone after it was lost - with the Crown ‘turning its attention to prove Mark Brandford was guilty’.
Mocking the prosecution’s version that Brandford dumped the crowbar in bushes off Mablethorpe Road, she called it a ‘ridiculous claim’ with there nothing to ‘show’ it was the weapon used for the murder in any event.
‘The area was searched so where was her phone, clothes, boots or knife (linked to the murder)? Mr Brandford did not have them so where are they? It is a massive red herring,’ she added.
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Referring to the pair’s relationship, Ms Jones said: ‘(Brandford) lived with her casual disregard for him. But there was nothing new (at the time of the murder) to bring about the school of violence.’
Jurors are due to retire to consider their verdicts on Thursday after the judge’s summing up.
Brandford denies murder and a charge of revenge porn.