Jilted man faces murder sentence

Lancaster And Morecambe Citizen: Phillip Brown will be sentenced at Lewes Crown Court Phillip Brown will be sentenced at Lewes Crown Court

A jilted man will be sentenced today for murdering his former lover at her country cottage after he tried to win her back.

Phillip Brown smothered Deborah Levey, 44, at Cherry Tree Cottage in East Ashling, near Chichester, West Sussex.

He then set about eliminating suspicions of foul play, including sending her bogus text messages expressing false concern about her whereabouts.

Brown also set out to "stage the scene" by trying to make her death look like it may have been due to natural causes, prosecutors said.

Brown was "possessive and controlling" of twice-married mother-of-one Ms Levey who told friends he had a "Jekyll and Hyde" character, jurors heard.

At Lewes Crown Court last Thursday, driver Brown, in his mid-40s from the Selsey area, was convicted of murder following a four-week trial.

The body of Ms Levey, a care scheme manager, was found just after 7.15am on January 28 last year by a colleague who called on her as they were meant to travel to London for work.

Prosecutor Mark Dennis QC told the trial that at first glance there was nothing to indicate her death was suspicious.

There were no obvious signs of injury, no break-in at her home and no suggestions that the property had been burgled.

But Mr Dennis said there were three features about the scene which raised questions.

One was the way in which Ms Levey was found dead on her sofa covered by a blanket up to her neck.

It "appeared contrary to what you would expect had the deceased covered herself", Mr Dennis said. He added that fresh love bites were found on her neck.

And thirdly Ms Levey's mobile phone was found dumped at the bottom of a fish tank near the sofa on which she was found dead.

A post-mortem examination was unable to find evidence that Ms Levey died from natural causes, but it did rule out suggestions she may have self-harmed or overdosed.

Mr Dennis said there were "tell-tale signs" that death was by asphyxia. By suffocating Ms Levey's mouth, death would have occurred within 60 seconds and left minimal outward signs of injury.

He said that "having gone round to the deceased's home that Sunday afternoon with the intention of trying to win her back and restart their relationship, and having spent time together, both drinking and engaging in no doubt earnest and genuine conversation about their future, there came a point when the fragility of their relationship was exposed once again".

He added: "But this time it led to tragic consequences. Sadly, it would have taken but a moment for the defendant to have given vent to his anger and frustration if he was failing in his ultimate dream and finding himself once again rebuffed."

Detective Superintendent Ian Pollard, of the Surrey and Sussex major crime team, said after Brown's conviction that he had tried and failed to "mask his evil act" with a string of distractions, false clues and stories.

"But we were eventually able to show, to the satisfaction of the jury, that he was indeed the killer, and justice has now been done for Debbie and her family," Mr Pollard said.

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