A 27-year-old man murdered a student by placing her in the boot of his car and setting fire to it, a court has heard.
Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw, of Lakeside, Beckenham, 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’s Eastbourne campus.
Her body was found in the burnt-out Volkswagen Jetta which had been dumped in a road by Ifield Golf Club on March 13 last year.
Philip Bennetts QC, prosecuting, 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 Miss Muller was in the boot at the time.
Mr Bennetts said that the car had been hired by the defendant’s girlfriend while Jeffrey-Shaw and his son were present.
Mr Bennetts said: “Christopher Jeffrey-Shaw set fire to a car, in the boot of that car was Janet Muller. She had been beaten and put in the boot. She died in the fire.
“The defendant, having done that, ordered a taxi from a nearby hotel using a false name and returned to London where he lived.”
Mr Bennetts continued: “Janet Muller was a 21-year-old student who a few months before this incident had been experiencing mental health problems.
“She had been admitted to Mill View Hospital in Hove on March 3 but she went missing on two occasions on March 12 and the last occasion was 10.15pm that evening.”
He said that she was last seen approaching an unidentified car in Kingsway, Hove, at 1.15am on March 13.
Mr Bennetts added: “There is no evidence the defendant and Janet Muller knew or associated with each other prior to the date of her death.”
He told the jury of six men and six women 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 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 Miss 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 he 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 Miss Muller, who was buried in Berlin last May, were in court to hear details of the case against Jeffrey-Shaw.
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