Ipswich/Gran Canaria: The final moments of tragic Sarah
ALLEGED murder victim Sarah Shields was subjected to a brutal attack at the hands of her boyfriend, according to the prosecutor’s case outlined ahead of a trial due to take place next year.
The Ipswich Star has uncovered details of the case against Chris Chittock, who is accused of killing his 23-year-old girlfriend while on holiday in Gran Canaria in July 2010.
Miss Shields’ body was found washed up off the coast of the Spanish island prompting the murder inquiry.
Chittock, the man at the centre of the European murder investigation, is currently in custody in Spain awaiting trial.
The 38-year-old, of Alnesbourn Crescent, Ipswich, was extradited in 2010 after being arrested when he returned to the UK without Miss Shields.
Today it has emerged Spanish prosecutors in the case have requested Chittock is handed a 20-year prison term if found guilty.
His trial is expected to take place next February – more than two-and-a-half years after Miss Shields’ body was found.
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It is believed Chittock is yet to have the opportunity to enter a not guilty plea in the Spanish proceedings.
The prosecution’s case alleges that Chittock, an engineer at BOC in Hadleigh Road, Ipswich – where he met Miss Shields – killed his girlfriend because she had resumed contact with her ex-boyfriend via social networking site Facebook.
It is understood tests carried out on Miss Shields’s body indicated she had been strangled.
Prosecutors in Spain alleged Chittock lashed out, hitting Miss Shields several times in their room at the Balito Beach Apartments in Mogan, on the island’s south coast.
Their case is that the 38-year-old then took Miss Shields to the beach where he repeatedly beat her in the face with his fists before strangling her.
The prosecution’s indictment alleged the 23-year-old suffered a broken nose after Chittock hit her head against stones before stripping Miss Shields, burning her clothes in a nearby field, and throwing her body into the sea.
Spanish police, the Guardia Civil, discovered the body on July 7, 2010, around 15 metres from the shoreline.
These new details of the prosecution’s case came to light after Spanish authorities were granted a two-year extension, enabling them to keep Chittock in custody.
He was first remanded in custody on July 13, 2010 and under Spanish law a person cannot be held for longer than two years before trial.
The Star has previously reported details of one of Chittock’s first court appearances at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court, where it emerged he came home alone and allegedly sent text messages to Miss Shields’ family from her mobile phone telling them she was alive and well.
At the hearing on July 16, 2010, prosecutor John Fenn said: “He (Chittock) returned to this country. He brought with him her (Miss Shields’) mobile phone.
“At various locations, he sent texts from her phone purporting to come from her to the effect that she was alive and well, whereas in fact she had been killed some days earlier.”
At that hearing, Mark Holt, representing Chittock, said his client denied murdering Miss Shields.
Miss Shields’s family said they are concerned that despite their best efforts they may not be informed of exactly when the trial is due to take place.
Her older brother Paul Davies, known as Martin to his family, said: “I have had to track down any information myself. We believe the trial will be in February but no one has been able to confirm that officially with me.
“I have spoken to the Foreign Office and the British Consulate but no one seems to be able to push the case, it seems utterly ridiculous.
“We are worried it could all go ahead without us knowing. Someone will be informing his [Chittock’s] family – it seems unfair that they are not obliged to let us know.”
A spokesman for the Foreign Office confirmed the Spanish authorities do not have to let Miss Shields’ family know the trial date. He said the only way to be sure would be to hire a Spanish lawyer.