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Murder-accused used knife over fears others would be ‘cross’ at him, jury told

A lab worker accused of murdering a colleague during a brief relationship has told how he cut her throat because he thought people would “be cross” at him, for having just strangled her.

Ross McCullum previously claimed he killed 23-year-old Megan Newborough out of “blind rage” after alleging she triggered memories of claimed sexual abuse from his childhood, during oral sex.

Giving evidence for a fifth day, McCullum, who admits strangling Miss Newborough and then cutting her throat but denies murder, was asked about why he used a knife.

Ross McCullum court case
A court artist’s drawing of Ross McCullum (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

The 30-year-old told a jury at Leicester Crown Court on Wednesday: “Everyone is going to be cross at me.

“It made sense at the time.

“I’m trying to explain rationally how I felt at a very irrational, manic time.”

John Cammegh KC, prosecuting, then asked: “Rather than dial 999 or rush next door for help, you thought it would be appropriate to pick up a carving knife and take it to Megan’s neck?”

McCullum said: “I don’t think it’s appropriate, I was just pacing around.

“It made sense people would be cross at me that I’d strangled her.

“It made sense.”

He was asked about what he called the “manic” phase he was in, as he strangled her – and at one point the prosecutor counted down a full minute, to give McCullum a sense of time.

McCullum replied he “wasn’t watching the clock”, during the incident.

He also claimed he was “triggered” into attacking Miss Newborough, of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, when – on his account – she started to pull him closer for sex, at his home, and said “come here”.

But McCullum, of Windsor Close, Coalville, Leicestershire, was challenged by the prosecution about the initial account he gave about the killing to police, in an interview 49 hours after the event – when he made no mention of those two apparently triggering words.

Mr Cammegh asked: “You were trying to raise the spectre that Megan was not a clean woman.

“You were trying to suggest you were a victim.”

McCullum replied: “I literally said (in interview) Megan is not a tramp.”

Taken to the transcript of the interview, McCullum told officers “she was telling me all this stuff, before – I was getting nervous, panicky, and I was feeling really uncomfortable, and she hit me”.

McCullum interjected: “It was more a slap than a hit.”

Mr Cammegh continued: “You told officers ‘While I was strangling her, she told me to stop’. Why is it you remember that so clearly, that she said ‘stop’ or ‘don’t’?

“Those words registered with you didn’t they?

“But you chose to ignore them?”

“I didn’t,” said McCullum.

Prosecutors have claimed McCullum murdered Miss Newborough between 8.08pm and 8.49pm on Friday, August 6, last year.

The court previously heard how McCullum sent text messages to Miss Newborough’s phone, knowing she was dead, after he used her own car to dump the human resources worker in a lane near Woodhouse Eaves, Leicestershire.

Mr Cammegh then asked: “You thought by finding the knife, choosing to pick it up… walking from one room to another, kneeling down by her body and using it in the way you did.

“That those several choices you made were simply because you thought it would be preferable for the objective observer to discover that Megan had had a knife used on her, rather than having died through strangulation.

“Is that really what you’re telling this jury?”

McCullum replied: “It isn’t as cut and dried as that.

“I didn’t decide.”

Mr Cammegh asked: “You have to say you didn’t ‘decide’ because you have to maintain your defence, don’t you?”

McCullum replied: “If I was that kind of guy in this situation; manipulative, controlling…

The Crown’s KC then interjected: “A killer?”

McCullum replied: “A killer. I am a killer, now.”

Mr Cammegh then put it to McCullum: “We say you’re a murderer. “

McCullum said later: “I didn’t choose or intend to hurt Megan.”

The trial continues.