Man accused of murdering young mum was arrested four weeks before her death

Hove Trial Centre SUS-140217-222343001
Hove Trial Centre SUS-140217-222343001

The man accused of murdering a young Bexhill mum was arrested after a confrontation with his best friend and the victim four weeks before her death, a court has heard.

Paul Withers is currently on trial charged with the murder of 20-year-old Lauren Masters at her flat in Sutherland Avenue on August 28, 2015.

Lauren Masters. SUS-150209-154350001

Lauren Masters. SUS-150209-154350001

Sitting at Hove Trial Centre on day two of the trial (Tuesday, July 19), the court heard how Mr Withers, 22, had been arrested by police in the early hours of August 2, 2015 following a confrontation with his friend Jay Emery and Miss Masters.

Giving evidence in court, Mr Emery said he had attended a party with Miss Masters on August 1, 2015 at the house of a mutual friend. He told the court she was not in a relationship with Mr Withers at that time.

Mr Emery suggested they go back to his house that night ‘because it was late’ and they were both ‘tired’. Miss Masters agreed and they ‘ended up in bed together’. Mr Emery denied having any ‘sexual intention’ when he invited Miss Masters back to his home.

In the early hours of the morning, Mr Emery said he heard Miss Masters shouting from the bed and realised Mr Withers was climbing through the window of the first-floor bedroom.

The court heard how Mr Withers was ‘angry’ and ‘upset’ at what he saw and shouted: “What the **** are you doing? How the **** could you do this to me?”

Mr Emery escorted Mr Withers out of the building before then accompanying Miss Masters back to her flat, where the defendant’s mother was looking after the victim’s two children.

A short while later, Mr Withers turned up at the flat in Sutherland Avenue, ‘kicking the front door, apparently trying to get in’.

Mr Emery told the court Miss Masters had crouched down to the letterbox to try and speak with Mr Withers and calm him down, but he responded by spitting at her through the letterbox.

Miss Masters phoned the police and Mr Withers was arrested.

When asked if Mr Withers had a right to be angry at what had happened, Mr Emery said: “He was upset. He was angry. He’s going to be angry - any man would be.”

Although describing himself as Mr Withers’ best friend for around 19 years, Mr Emery told the court he had not been on speaking terms with the defendant in the lead up to that night.

He said: “At the time, we weren’t speaking. I was just getting on with my life, as was Lauren.”

Mr Emery said he continued speaking with Miss Masters ‘about every other day’ after the incident, but did not speak to Mr Withers at all.

Earlier that day, the court heard evidence from Miss Masters’ mother and sister about how Mr Withers had become ‘controlling’ and ‘more violent’ towards his girlfriend following the birth of their second child in June 2014.

Mr Withers denies the charge of murder.

The trial continues.

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