Darren Maslen was found guilty of murder by a majority verdict yesterday (thurs) and will serve a life sentence.

Victim 'suggested sex game that killed her'

THE man accused of murdering his partner at their Market Lavington home told a court this week she died after a kinky sex session went disastrously wrong.

Darren Maslen, 29, of The Muddle, who denies murder, told Winchester Crown Court on Monday he and Gill Barter enjoyed regular 'rough sex' sessions.

It was during one of these, on the night of Monday, October 1 last year, that Miss Barter received the injuries that subsequently led to her death.

Maslen said that they had started a sexual relationship when he was 17 and she was 16. Miss Barter became pregnant with their daughter Megan in 1998 and shortly after the baby was born they moved next door to Maslen's parents in The Muddle, Market Lavington.

The prosecution case is that Maslen drugged Miss Barter before brutally attacking her, but Maslen told the court she was a willing participant.

He said that after Miss Barter's father died in April last year she began to take amphetamines. Before this she had disliked illegal drugs.

She was also put on anti-depressants but Maslen said that she was in the habit of using his when hers had run out.

Maslen had been prescribed anti-depressants such as Dothiepin since 1994.

Maslen told the court that he and Miss Barter had had sex on the Saturday and on Sunday, despite Maslen keeping a secret tryst with Lisa Saville, whom he had met over the Internet, in a car park in Chippenham earlier on the Sunday.

On the Monday evening, he said Miss Barter had asked if he could get any ecstasy. The request had surprised him but he went to buy some tablets. Miss Barter, he said, kept sending him text messages on his mobile phone urging him to return so they could have sex.

He returned and once they had put Megan to bed they had a drink and had a bath together.

Afterwards they watched a video of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, during which they each took two tablets of ecstasy, before putting on a pornographic video. One particular sex practice excited Miss Barter and, Maslen said, she asked him if he could do that to her.

He did so and he told the court she enjoyed it. "She was so turned on, she was loving it," he said. He said he had used only enough force to make it pleasurable for her.

His evidence clashed with that of Home Office pathologist Dr Huw White who told the court he had examined Miss arter's body and found more extensive injuries than could be explained by vigorous sexual activity.

Maslen said when he discovered Miss Barter was bleeding he suggested he take her to the hospital but she said it could wait until later in the morning.

He said he had cleaned up the blood on the carpet and put a blood-soaked duvet, on which Miss Barter had been lying, in the shed behind the house so their daughter would not walk in the blood. He threw a bottle of Galliano and a vodka bottle in bin bags because they were blood-stained as a result of his touching them.

He phoned his mother Shirley and asked her to call an ambulance because he was 'a little bit concerned about Gill'.

Paramedics arrived to find Miss Barter on the lounge floor. She had no pulse, and was very pale. They called police after Maslen became very agitated and smashed a window with his fist.

His barrister, Nigel Pascoe QC, referred to a comment he made to police 'one night of stupidity and look what happens' and asked what he meant. Maslen said it had been stupid to take the ecstasy.

Cross-examined by prosecution barrister Roderick Denyer QC, Maslen said he hadn't called an ambulance earlierbecause he didn't think Miss Barter was bleeding badly.

Forensic officers found the duvet still dripping blood when they examined it later that morning. The court was told Maslen had phoned Miss Barter's work at 9am to say she was sick with a stomach ache but paramedics had not been alerted for another hour. Maslen told Mr Denyer he knew what he was doing at each stage of that evening and morning.

He added that he threw the bottles away because they were rubbish and not because he had anything to hide. He had not told the paramedics about Miss Barter's injuries when they had arrived because he thought they would find out for themselves when they examined her.

He had told police in interview that Miss Barter never took drugs because he did not want to upset her family.

Injuries 'result of violent force' DARREN Maslen, on trial for the murder of his partner Gillian Barter, wept and called out for her after being taken into custody, Winchester Crown Court heard last week.

PC Steve Cox, based at Devizes, said Maslen was already handcuffed by the time he arrived at the house in The Muddle, Market Lavington, where Miss Barter been certified dead at 10.30am on Tuesday, October 3 last year.

PC Cox said Maslen was tearful and became increasingly upset on the journey to Salisbury. By the time the car reached the police station, he had calmed down. But once in the cell, the whimpering began again and by 1.30pm his breathing was so erratic he was taken to Salisbury District Hospital.

While there he was heard to say 'I want my Gill back' and repeated 'I need Gill' several times. Once he had recovered from his panic attack, he asked when he would be released and was heard to say 'one night of stupidity and look what happens'.

Home Office pathologist Dr Huw White told the court he had examined Miss Barter's body and found extensive injuries. She had bruising to her face and multiple areas of bruising to the back, top and side of her head.

He said these bruises were consistent with her head being banged repeatedly against a hard surface. He maintained they were more extensive than could be explained by vigorous sexual activity.

He also said the damage to Miss Barter's pelvic area and internal organs required a significant degree of force and the use of a blunt instrument or instruments, or a fist. It was the shock and blood loss arising from these injuries that were the main cause of her death.

The trial also heard evidence from a number of expert witnesses, including from the Forensic Science Service.

Michael Appleby said he had examined the body, a blood-stained duvet recovered from a shed behind the house and two blood-stained bottles found in black plastic rubbish bags as well as a vibrator found in the living room.

All the articles were covered with blood and other body fluids which DNA analysis found belonged to Miss Barter.

Another forensic scientist, Brian Johnson, had examined blood and liver samples from Miss Barter's body and found exceptionally high levels of ecstasy and the sedative Dothiepin.

He also found traces of the 'date-rape drug' GHB but in such small quantities that the result was in doubt as the body produced GHB after death.

Negligible amounts of alcohol were found in blood samples from both Maslen and Miss Barter.

Another forensic expert, Leonard Chirgwin, said liquid found in the bottom of the Galliano bottle, contained 85milligrammes of Dothiepin. Medics could not find a pulse

WHEN paramedics were called to the The Muddle at Market Lavington they were unprepared for the situation they found.

Vivian Stiles, of Wiltshire Ambulance Service, told Winchester Crown Court he and colleague John Humphries were called to a female in respiratory collapse. They were met by Maslen's mother, Shirley, who led them into the lounge where Gill Barter was on the floor. She had marks on her face and was covered by a dressing gown.

There was no pulse, she was very pale and her pupils were fixed and dilated. Attempts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful. They were aware of a man, who they discovered was Maslen, in the lounge. He said Miss Barter had taken two ecstasy tablets.

Local GP Dr Jonathan Miller arrived and certified that Miss Barter was dead. Dr Miller told the court Maslen had told him he had come downstairs to find Miss Barter in a state of collapse. She had slept downstairs the previous night.

Dr Miller was present when Sergeant Christian Lange and WPC Sonia Stockhill of Devizes police had arrived, called by the paramedics after Maslen had become agitated. Dr Miller had gone outside and seen a blood-stained duvet in the shed.