Campus killer collapses in courtroom: Open University organiser describes how body was found in blood-spattered room

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THE MAN accused of murdering an Open University lecturer by slashing her throat, then mutilating her body and dressing up in her clothes, collapsed in court yesterday as the jury was given a detailed description of the scene of the killing.

Robin Pask, 32, clutched his waist and fell to the floor in Leeds Crown Court. He had to be helped out of the room by prison officers.

The judge, Mr Justice Swinton-Thomas, had just agreed to a short adjournment when he was told that there was some concern about Pask, who is known to suffer from a stomach ulcer. As the jury of seven men and five women rose Pask clutched his waist, swayed and collapsed.

Pask, a laboratory technician from Horwich, Greater Manchester, denies murder but admits the manslaughter of Dr Elizabeth Howe, 34, on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Dr Howe, an expert on English Restoration literature, was stabbed to death in her room at York University soon after she and Pask, who were not on the same course, had arrived for a summer course last July.

Before Pask collapsed and the case was adjourned, the jury heard evidence from Roger Day, who organised the Open University course. He said that he went to Dr Howe's rooms on the campus, after she had failed to arrive for dinner and a pre-arranged meeting with students. He went to her room with another member of the academic staff, Nick Bland.

In a prepared statement, Mr Day said: 'The door was locked and I expressed my concern. We went to the porter's lodge to see if she had deposited her key and perhaps left the campus. The head porter offered to open the room to see if there was anything wrong.' He went on: 'He unlocked the door with a master key. He seemed to be having difficulty opening it and then he sprang back in horror and said something like 'Oh my God'. There was blood all over the place.'

Pask's sister, Carolyn Garrity, also from the Greater Manchester area, told the court yesterday that she had received an obscene telephone call from Pask soon after the killing. She told the court: 'He said: 'Hello, it's Robin, I'm just ringing to let you know I've arrived'. I asked him what he was doing. It was a strange conversation . . . then he just said: 'I want to see your tits'. I was absolutely stunned. I asked him what was the matter, what was happening. I was shocked. He wouldn't speak to me in that way. It's hard to take in. To me it was a cry for help.'

Pask's mother, Margaret, told the jury that, in the weeks before the killing, her son had become withdrawn. She had noticed that he was not being careful about his appearance and was not joining in. He would only watch televison or lie on a couch and continually complained of stomach aches. She said: 'He had a general malaise. He would bottle his feelings up.'

The trial continues today.