An Army cadet who strangled his special needs girlfriend allegedly boasted to a cellmate that he did it on purpose as she was seeing someone else, a court heard yesterday.
Daniel Lancaster had been in an “obsessive” relationship with Anna Banks for four months after moving into the supported living centre where she lived in Centaur Court, Colne.
Lancaster, who was being treated for cannabis-induced psychosis, was arrested and charged with murder when Anna was found strangled to death in his flat, but claimed it was a sex game gone wrong and she “liked it rough”.
Initially believing she was “unconscious”, Lancaster waited until two days after her death to call an ambulance, telling paramedics who found him watching TV and playing with his mobile phone he had been waiting for her to wake up.
But a cellmate prosecution witness said Lancaster boasted of killing her as he knew she was seeing someone else.
Manchester Crown Court heard Lancaster told cellmate Joe Shephard: “I am in for killing my girlfriend because she was cheating. I knew she was cheating but I did not say anything to her. I started sleeping with her, then I put my hands around her throat, I intentionally strangled her, she coughed up blood and stopped moving. I carried on until I satisfied myself.”
“Pleasant, happy” Anna had been a resident of the supported living centre since January 2009 to help her live independently, despite learning difficulties.
Lancaster also received 10 hours of support a week to help deal with his psychosis, brought on by excessive cannabis use, as well as taking quetiapine.
The court heard that before being admitted in August 2009 he had alcohol problems as well, but as a teenager he had been a high-performing member of the Army Cadets.
He got together with Anna in August 2009 and the court heard they spent all their time together. Prosecuting, Louise Blackwell said: “Once Anna and the defendant began their relationship, it became very obsessive and it was hard to motivate them to do anything other than be with each other. There were occasional issues between them but nothing to worry Airon Rawcliffe, a support worker.”
Mr Rawcliffe told the court they began to neglect their individual support sessions as they did not want to be apart.
The court heard Anna was very open about sex, according to Lancaster’s schoolfriend Christopher Peers-Holland and Mr Rawcliffe. “Peers-Holland saw they were very lovey-dovey and talked openly about sex. When he was with them, he heard Anna talking about wanting sex with the defendant and wanting him to strangle her.”
In the days leading to her death, the court heard Anna revealed she had been contacted by an ex and Lancaster complained of this in text messages to Mr Peers-Holland. “Five days before her death, Peers-Holland and the defendant had been texting each other. The content suggests the defendant was jealous towards Anna for some specific reason.”
Lancaster called paramedics to his flat, off Hawley Street, on December 22nd just past midnight, where they found her dead with signs of rigor mortis in her body. “One of the ambulance men went to talk to Daniel Lancaster. He was still watching television and playing with his mobile phone. On being asked when he had last seen Anna Banks alive, Daniel Lancaster stated he had been with her the night before and was waiting for her to wake up. His mobile was seized. An examination of that mobile, and text messages, showed Daniel Lancaster had been aware Anna Banks was in real difficulties for a long time before he called for help.”
Pathologists examining her body said she died of manual strangulation and put the time of death as being during the night of December 20th.
In interview with police, he admitted he had strangled Anna to death but had done so “by an accident” and “had not meant to hurt her”.
Ms Blackwell explained: “He said Anna Banks had liked to engaged in ‘rough sex’ and particularly liked to be ‘strangled’. He described himself as being not at all keen on this, but said he would do anything to please Anna.
“He said he had placed his hands round Anna’s throat ‘loads’ of previous occasions. When asked how, on these previous occasions, he had known when to stop, he answered: ‘I don’t know. She’d scratch me or summat. I don’t know.
“He described how he had started strangling Anna in his flat on this last occasion. He was not sure whether it was during sex. He did not know for how long he had had his hands round Anna’s throat. He said he could not remember what happened and talked about being in a ‘daze’ and events being ‘proper blurry’.
Afterwards he said he had thought “something might have been wrong, but didn’t want to admit it”.
But cellmate Joe Shepherd said Lancaster has told him “Once I finished I rolled off her, she was going cold and a funny colour.” He added: “I knew she was dead when she coughed up blood. I cuddled her up all night and when I woke up in the morning she had changed colour.” He also told his cellmate he wished he had got rid of the body as it “would have been easier”.
Lancaster pleads guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder.
The trial continues.