Wick man accused of murdering fiancée at Seaford campsite stopped CPR within seconds, court hears

A cleaner accused of smothering his fiancé in a tent on a camping weekend in Seaford told a jury he has no regrets after admitting he stopped doing CPR before paramedics arrived.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 10:54 am
Sarah Clayton was found dead at the campsite in Seaford
Sarah Clayton was found dead at the campsite in Seaford

In a harrowing 999 call playedl at Lewes Crown Court during his trial, an emergency operator tried to talk Christopher Cole through instructions on how to perform CPR.

Mr Cole, of Clun Road, Wick, who already had training in resuscitation, agreed he stopped within seconds.

“I had stopped, I couldn’t physically do it. I tried my hardest,” Mr Cole said.

Duncan Atkinson QC for the Crown described Mr Cole as controlling and told the jury on Thursday that Sarah Clayton, 21, was smothered by him in a fit of anger.

He stopped resuscitation knowing it was useless, Mr Atkinson said.

Other campers found him in a distressed state 43 seconds into his 999 call.

“You were stressed because you knew what you had done. You bitterly regretted it,” Mr Atkinson said.

The 31-year-old said: “I did what I thought was best at the time and I don’t regret any of it.”

He denies murdering Sarah Clayton in May 2018.

Mr Atkinson told him: “You knew what you had done. You knew when you had done it.

“You knew there was no point in trying CPR.

“You knew you had killed her and that’s what you had meant to do.”

Mr Cole said: “No, you are wrong.”

Sarah Clayton was found dead in the tent at the Buckle Holiday Park near Seaford.

Mr Cole said he was frantic after returning to the tent to find her cold and unresponsive.

Mr Cole, who worked as a cleaner in Sussex police stations, told the court, the couple had argued after coming back to find their tent waterlogged.

Other campers described hearing choking noises coming from their tent overnight.

A woman sleeping in the next tent described hearing a man saying: “If you don’t shut up, I will shut you up.”

Other campers reported heard choking, rasping breathing, the court heard.

“What was it you used to smother her,” Mr Atkinson asked.

Mr Cole said: “I never used anything at all, I never smothered her.

“I don’t know how she died.”

Mr Cole said he had been frantic and emotional when paramedics arrived on Sunday morning.

“That night, after those noises, you were heard to be crying,” Mr Atkinson said. “Was that because you realised what you had done?”

Mr Cole said: “No.

“It was only the next morning.

“In the night, definitely not.”

Mr Cole told Lewes Crown Court his family had taken Ms Clayton in when she was using drugs and living in a tent.

He said she was given strict rules about staying away from drugs or she would be thrown out of his parents house in Littlehampton.

Mr Cole said they had been in a relationship for more than five months before her death and planned to marry.

Mr Cole denies her murder.

The trial continues.