Brother of Barking offender fails bid for freedom after fiancee's Land Rover death
A businessman who drove over his fiancee s head in his Land Rover following an explosive row, has failed in an Appeal Court bid to overturn his murder conviction. Christopher Caunter, 37, was jailed for life at Ipswich Crown Court in November last year af
A businessman who drove over his fiancee's head in his Land Rover following an explosive row, has failed in an Appeal Court bid to overturn his murder conviction.
Christopher Caunter, 37, was jailed for life at Ipswich Crown Court in November last year after he was found guilty of murdering Deborah Townsend, 35.
The jury rejected his story that she died after leaping from his speeding car.
Caunter's brother, Robert, 40, of Eldred Road, Barking, who helped cover up the crime, was jailed for three years after he was convicted of assisting an offender.
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Christopher Caunter, of South Avenue, Hullbridge, fled to France - and then Thailand - after killing Deborah on the A146 near Beccles, Suffolk, on July 14 2005.
Two days later, Robert came forward to tell police that Deborah had died after jumping from his brother's car at 50mph.
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The prosecution claimed Robert knew how Deborah died and helped his brother to dispose of her body after the murder, although he insisted he always believed her death was accidental.
Prosecution scientific evidence suggested that Deborah's injuries were wholly inconsistent with falling from a car at speed.
Caunter killed his fiancee by reversing over her head after first driving into her from behind, shattering her ankles, it was claimed. He then dumped her body into the passenger seat and drove back to London.
On the night of the murder, the couple had spent the night at a Lowestoft pub where they both drank heavily and had a bitter row.
Earlier that day detectives executed a search warrant at Christopher Caunter's business address in connection with a money-laundering investigation.
Christopher Caunter's case reached London's Appeal Court last week as he unsuccessfully sought leave to appeal against the murder conviction.
His brother sought permission to appeal both conviction and sentence - also without success.
Lord Justice Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mr Justice Stadlen, rejected claims that the trial judge should have barred evidence about Christopher Caunter's previous violent character - including torture allegations which led to an assault conviction.
He said the evidence was "plainly admissible", noting that the key issue at trial was whether Deborah died accidentally, or because Christopher Caunter "lost his temper".
The disputed evidence touched on incidents which displayed his "violent disposition", and tendency to exhibit "extreme violence" in response to trivial incidents, the judge added.
The evidence was therefore relevant and admissible.
Lord Justice Thomas also rejected Robert Caunter's conviction challenge, which was based on alleged flaws in the trial judge's directions to the jury.
The judge accepted that Robert Caunter was "dominated" by his brother, but added that he had provided him with practical help in covering up the murder, and had "delayed reporting" Deborah's death to police.