Girl spent week with dead woman in flat

A YOUNG girl spent a week alone in a flat with the body of a murdered nurse, a court heard yesterday.

James Hore

A YOUNG girl spent a week alone in a flat with the body of a murdered nurse, a court heard yesterday.

Daniel Tambengwa has denied killing Ella Chimweta, 32, at their home in the Highwoods area of Colchester in July last year.

A trial at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday heard that an 11-year-old girl from Zimbabwe was being looked after by the couple and staying with them.


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The youngster, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, spent a week in the flat with Ms Chimweta before alerting a passer by to what had happened.

It is alleged that after killing “the love of his life”, Tambengwa, 30, then tried to force the young girl, who only arrived in the UK on June 7, into a sexual activity and made her watch pornographic films with him.

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The jury of eight men and four women were told that Ms Chimweta, who worked at Colchester General Hospital, suffered bruising to her neck, possibly fracturing it, consistent with being strangled.

Richard Christie QC, prosecuting, said by the time Ms Chimweta's partially clothed body was found in her bedroom, it was so badly decomposed it was difficult to tell exactly what had happened on the evening of July 9 or morning of July 10.

However, he said there were no signs that she died of natural causes.

Mr Christie said the morning after allegedly killing Ms Chimweta, Tambengwa then “tried to engage” the youngster, who was oblivious to the murder, in sexual activity after she showered.

He is said to have pushed her on to her bed - attempting to pull her towel away, asking her to show her body.

The girl resisted but it is alleged that later that day Tambengwa, who comes from Cameroon, tried to make her watch a pornographic film, exposing himself to her, and inviting her to copy what was happening on the screen.

He was to later tell police that he had been “in a trance”.

The jury was told that it was not until a week after the alleged murder that the child left the ground-floor flat at Weetmans Drive, and alerted a passer-by.

She went up to a senior nursing sister Claire Gowland and her four-year-old daughter, and said: “I need your help, I need the police - she is dead in the flat.”

The pair followed the youngster into the main bedroom of the flat where they discovered Ms Chimweta's body hidden underneath clothes and luggage to the side of the bed.

Mr Christie told the jury that Tambengwa fled to Cameroon within 36 hours of Ms Chimweta's death.

The court heard Tambengwa was due to graduate as a bio-medical scientist on July 18.

After meeting in 2004 and living together in London the couple moved to Colchester, taking out the lease on the flat in April 2006.

When they renewed the lease a year later, the letting agent described Ms Chimweta as “bubbly and chatty” but said Tambengwa was said to be reluctant to sign again.

Mr Christie said Tambengwa had not reacted well to the arrival of the young girl, and Ms Chimweta told a practice nurse on June 25 that they were “having problems”.

It is also alleged that Tambengwa became angry when Ms Chimweta and the young girl spoke to each other in Shona , the language of Zimbabwe, because he did not understand.

Mr Christie said although it was not known what the couple argued about on the night of the alleged killing, he said there had been “significant tensions” since the youngster arrived.

He said Tambengwa was “not a one-woman man” and had been having sexual relationships with at least two other women.

Tambengwa had also complained to a friend, saying: “Ella doesn't want to have sex with me any more. She doesn't take me to heaven any more.”

Tambengwa, who was arrested in Cameroon, has denied murdering Ms Chimweta on or about July 9 and pleaded not guilty to further charges of inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity and of trying to make a child look at images of sexual activity between July 8 and 11.

The trial continues.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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