Road killing fiance `stabbed in row over hat'

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The Independent Online
Tracie Andrews, who is charged with the murder of her fiance, Lee Harvey, in a "road rage" attack was granted bail yesterday.

Magistrates at Redditch made the decision on the condition she re- sided at her parent's home in Alve- church, Hereford and Worcester.

The prosecution immediately lodged an appeal and Ms Andrews was detained in custody pending the appeal at a Crown Court, which is expected to be heard within the next 48 hours.

Earlier, Kerry Moreton, for the prosecution, told the court that Ms Andrews, 27, had stabbed Mr Harvey up to 37 times after a row over a black woolly hat. Ms Moreton said the pair, who had a history of domestic violence, had rowed after she gave him the hat - of a type "associated with black people" - for a joke as they drove home. It was later found in a nearby ditch.

"There is evidence that she produced the hat in the car and there was then an argument," said Ms Moreton. She said there was no evidence that two men in a Sierra, one of whom Ms Andrews claimed killed 25-year-old Mr Harvey after a car chase, had existed.

A witness who had seen the couple's Ford Escort late on 1 December, the night of the murder, saw no sign of another vehicle. "It all points to only two people being there, Mr Harvey and Ms Andrews," she said.

Ms Andrews, who denies she was the killer, appeared before magistrates having been charged with the murder late on Thursday .

Tim Robinson, her solicitor, successfully applied for reporting re- strictions on the case to be lifted, claiming that police evidence against her was "weak and tenuous". And he appealed for new witnesses to come forward to corroborate her story.

Ms Andrews' family had always believed it was not a road-rage killing, but a racial attack by the passenger in the Sierra, against a man whose dark skin meant he was "frequently mistaken as coming from the Indian sub-continent and particularly Pakistan", said Mr Robinson.

During the attack a man - described as overweight and with staring eyes - had called Mr Harvey "a fucking Pakistani," he added.

Mr Robinson agreed that the couple, who had been together for two years, had an "eventful relationship" but said that they always made up and Ms Andrews regarded Mr Harvey as a loving man whom she deeply loved. "He was the last person in the world she would have deliberately killed."

That no knife had been found at the scene or on her person, proved she had not been the killer, said Mr Robinson, who accused the police of "sub- standard investigation".

Having originally regarded Ms Andrews as a victim of "this wicked crime", they had then made a volte-face when they failed to find the occupants of the Sierra, he said.

The court also heard that Ms Andrews, who has a daughter, tried to kill herself before she became a suspect because of her grief, and had undergone psychiatric counselling.

But Ms Moreton said Ms Andrews had had 15 minutes before help arrived to dispose of the knife in a rural area and pointed to evidence that contradicted her account. Despite widespread appeals, no one had reported seeing the Sierra that night, Ms Andrews had failed to take its number plate and the defendant had claimed the Sierra had stopped near a house for the attack.

A girl in that house had recalled hearing only two voices - one softly spoken - rather than four, Ms Moreton said. There had also been a quantity of blood found behind the couple's car, not in front of it, where the alleged attack took place.

Ms Moreton outlined a history of domestic violence including how on two occasions Ms Andrews had been seen to attack Mr Harvey: once with a bottle and once punching him in the face. There were also suggestions she had brandished a knife at a previous boyfriend and possibly on another occasion at Mr Harvey.

Witnesses had also referred to "animosity" between the pair on the day of the murder and a clump of her hair had been found near Mr Harvey's hand at the murder scene," she said.

Ms Andrews appeared at a police press conference on 3 December, two days after the murder, to appeal for witnesses to come forward.

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