Jury retires to consider verdict in case of man accused of murdering Eastbourne student

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The jury has retired to consider its verdict in the case of a 27-year-old man accused of murdering an Eastbourne student by placing her in the boot of his car and setting light to it.

Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw, of Lakeside, Beckenham, south-east London, is on trial at Guildford Crown Court charged with the murder of 21-year-old German national Janet Muller, who had been studying at the University of Brighton campus in Eastbourne.

Her body was found in the burnt-out Volkswagen Jetta, which had been dumped in a road by Ifield Golf Club near Horsham, West Sussex, on March 13 last year.

The judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith, told the jury they needed to decide if Jeffrey-Shaw was guilty of murder or an alternative charge of manslaughter.

The jury of six men and six women began their deliberations on Thursday and were sent out to continue this morning.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Philip Bennetts QC, said that the defendant denied the murder, saying that he had been ordered by drug dealers to burn the car and he had not known Ms Muller was in the boot at the time.

Mr Bennetts said Ms Muller had been experiencing mental health problems and had been admitted to the Mill View Hospital in Hove, but where she went missing on the evening of March 12.

He told the court that phone records and CCTV footage showed that the defendant’s phone and his car were in the Brighton area on the evening that Miss Muller disappeared.

He said that she was last seen approaching an unidentified car in Kingsway, Hove, East Sussex, at 1.15am on March 13.

He said that when Jeffrey-Shaw was arrested, he answered “no comment” during his interview by detectives but a statement of his defence position stated that he denied Ms Muller’s murder.

Mr Bennetts said, “He said that he didn’t kill Janet Muller in that he didn’t know that she was in the boot of the vehicle, but he said that drug dealers that he knew had borrowed the car from him, and when they returned the car to him he was told to burn the car otherwise he would be shot.”

Mr Bennetts said Jeffrey-Shaw did tell officers, “I am not getting done for something I haven’t done. The whole thing is a nightmare I haven’t woken up from.”

The family of Ms Muller, who was buried in Berlin last May, have been attending court to hear details of the case against Jeffrey-Shaw.

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