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Banker guilty of murdering sex worker with a pestle

Christina Abbotts Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Christina Abbotts died at a friend’s flat in Crawley where she had been house-sitting

A City banker has been found guilty of murdering a 29-year-old sex worker by bludgeoning her to death with a pestle.

Zahid Naseem, 48, admitted killing Christina Abbotts at a flat in Crawley, West Sussex, in May, but denied murder.

Naseem stayed in the flat for 12 hours after Ms Abbotts died and pretended to be unconscious when police broke down the door, the court heard.

Jurors at Lewes Crown Court heard Ms Abbotts suffered more than 13 wounds to her head and 20 other injuries.

Naseem, of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, claimed he was acting in self-defence after Ms Abbotts tried to strangle him during a sex game.

He is due to be sentenced on Friday.

Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption Zahid Naseem claimed Ms Abbotts held his neck “and didn’t let go”

Police were called to the flat when no-one had heard from Ms Abbotts after midday on 25 May and she failed to turn up to her own birthday party.

She is thought to have been dead for about 12 hours before she was found, the court heard.

Officers found Naseem lying motionless on the sofa with his eyes flickering, but a paramedic was “sceptical” he was unconscious.

He only “woke up” fully when he was arrested in hospital, claiming to have no idea what happened.

When he gave evidence in court, he admitted striking Ms Abbotts but claimed it was in self-defence as he feared she was strangling him to death in a sex game gone wrong.

He also said a “red mist” may have come over him.

Ms Abbotts, who was born in the West Midlands and lived in London, was described as a “socialite” who led a party lifestyle in London and told relatives she worked in IT.

But the “privately educated city girl” lived a secret life as a high-class escort, who advertised her services online under the pseudonym Tilly Pexton.

Naseem paid her up to £3,500 a time when they met.

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