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Diana Lee Murder trial: day two
A CATTERY owner who prosecutors claim was murdered by a bankrupt business man she was having a secret affair with, was very security conscious due to a previous abusive relationship, a court heard.
Diana Lee, who was 54, was found murdered at her Cranage property, near Holmes Chapel, on August 9, 2012.
David Ryan, of Byrom Street, Hale, denies her murder.
On June 6, the second day of the eight week trial at Chester Crown Court, the court heard from Andrew Leese, who began lodging at Mrs Lee’s Parklands home on November 4, 2011.
Mr Leese told the court he had known Mrs Lee’s brother Colin Sherwood for around 30 years and had also known Diana for around that time.
When asked why Diana was looking for a lodger, Mr Leese said: “She said she didn’t feel safe in her own home, she appreciated the fact that someone was there.”
The court heard that Mrs Lee’s previous partner, Neville Barratt, had received a prison sentencing for physically assaulting her.
Mr Leese told the court that he and Diana were friends but had never been in a relationship and she kept her private life to herself – he did not know she had been conducting an affair with Mr Ryan after meeting him at the Cinnamon Club, Bowdon, in 2010.
The court heard that at the night of August 8, Diana ‘popped her head round’ to where he was sat in the garden between 7pm and 7.30pm to tell him that she was going for a Chinese meal in Knutsford with friends.
She did not tell him when she would be back and he did not hear her come home, when he left for work at around 6am the next day her car was parked on the drive.
The court then heard from Daxa Gannon, a friend of Diana’s whom she used to work with at Fryers Garden Centre, in Knutsford.
Mrs Gannon told the court that Diana arrived at Manzan Chinese restaurant slightly late, but was ‘chatty and bubbly’ and did not mention that she was going anywhere afterwards.
CCTV cameras and ANPR devices showed she travelled to Altrincham after leaving the restaurant at 10.10pm and was seen heading north at 10.35pm and then back south in the direction of her home 40 minutes later.
Mr Ryan later admitted t police that he met up with Diana and had sex with her in the back of her Vauxhall Corsa.
Forensic experts found Mrs Lee, who was divorced, was killed after receiving ‘numerous blows to her head’ with a ‘blunt object’, her body had also been slumped over a wheelbarrow and a fire had been started.
Mrs Lee’s Vauxhall Corsa was later found at 10.30am the same day, in Smith Lane, Mobberley by taxi driver David Stimpson, who saw someone trying to ‘torch’ it.
That person made off on a bicycle and after being followed by Mr Stimpson abandoned it and fled by foot over fields.
Mr Ryan denies murder.
The trial continues.