City banker claims 'brutal and savage' attack on Christina Abbotts was lawful self-defence

A ‘devoted’ father accused of bludgeoning a high class escort to death in Crawley has claimed he did ‘everything possible to stop her strangling him’.

City socialite Christina Abbotts was found dead at a flat in Highams Hill on May 26 this year after not showing up to her birthday party.

Zahid Naseem took the witness stand today as his murder trial continues

Zahid Naseem took the witness stand today as his murder trial continues

Zahid Naseem – a client of hers – denies murdering her and is standing trial at Lewes Crown Court.

READ MORE: Young woman found dead in her flat in Crawley led secret life as 'high class escort'
Giving evidence from the witness box this afternoon, the father-of-two from Amersham said is a ‘devoted’ father to two young children.

Naseem, 48, told the court he was initially attracted to Christina – whose escort name was Tilly Pexton - because she was ‘very much the professional city girl’.

On their first meeting they met in an expensive London hotel where she tied him up, led him on his hands and knees and asked him to drink wine from a saucer on the floor.

Christina Abbotts was found dead in a flat in Crawley after not turning up for her birthday party

Christina Abbotts was found dead in a flat in Crawley after not turning up for her birthday party

PICTURES: CCTV shows Christina Abbotts being kissed on the forehead by the man accused of murdering her
Naseem was then asked about the night of May 24, when he met Christina again.

After hours of cocaine and alcohol consumption in the Crawley flat, he said something happened while she was sitting on his chest in the bedroom.

He said: “At some stage she did hold my neck and she did not let go, and I remember at the time thinking hang on this isn’t being playful it is actually hurting.

“All of a sudden I was being choked, and it wasn’t just being choked I was being strangled to death.

CCTV images from Asda in Crawley show the pair together. In one image Naseem (left) appears to kiss Christina's forehead

CCTV images from Asda in Crawley show the pair together. In one image Naseem (left) appears to kiss Christina's forehead

“I did try and push her off but I couldn’t.”

Asked about the 13 blows to the head Christina received, Naseem said: “I just reached out, took the first thing that came to hand and stopped it.

“I think I just literally just everything possible to stop her strangling me to death.”

But prosecutor Christopher Tehrani QC asked him if his story was actually a ‘pack of lies’.

He asked Naseem if he thought he had acted in 'lawful and reasonable self-defence'.

Naseem said: "If that is what it’s called then yes."

The prosecutor asked: "Did you think you were still acting in lawful self-defence the fifth time you struck her around the head?”

Naseem said he ‘may have lost it’.

Mr Tehrani asked him how Christina came to suffer injuries consistent with strangling. He said he did not know.

The prosecutor continued: “When you struck her the 21st or 22nd time were you acting in self-defence?

“You could have stopped after the first or second blow, she would have got the message, wouldn’t she?”

Naseem said he did not know.

“Your attack on Christina Abbotts was a brutal, savage, bludgeoning affair to death. Do you agree?”

Naseem replied: “When you put it like that it does sound like that doesn’t it.”

Asked by his defence counsel about claims he was ‘play acting’ at being unconscious when paramedics arrived, Naseem said: “All I know is once I had been treated I was talking. I cooperated in full.

“I have cooperated in full right the way through this inquiry.”

Naseem denies murder. The trial continues.

MORE FROM THE TRIAL: Man pretended to be unconscious after killing Crawley sex worker in ‘savage and pointless’ attack, court hears