Asylum seeker 'fled hospital after killing lover'

An asylum seeker arrested for killing his older lover fled a hospital during a fire drill before being found in Spain 14 years later, a court heard today.

Miguel da Silva strangled Susan Martin, 44, in west London the day before she planned to leave him and return home to Manchester, jurors were told.

Da Silva, an Angolan, throttled her with a beige piece of T-shirt material in a "deliberate and sustained" attack in September 1994, the Old Bailey heard.

Ms Martin had told friends she feared her 24-year-old boyfriend would "do his nut" when he found out she was to leave him, said Duncan Atkinson, prosecuting.

"The defendant was extremely possessive and controlling of Miss Martin," Mr Atkinson told the jury.

"He became extremely angry at any suggestion that she wanted to end their relationship. In the course of that violence, on a previous occasion, he had tried to strangle her.

"At the very time she died, Susan Martin was trying to escape from that relationship, an escape the defendant was equally determined to prevent."

After killing her in her room in Notting Hill, Da Silva handed himself in to Paddington Green police station, the court heard.

He told officers he had been in a fight with his girlfriend and her body was discovered face down with a cloth tied tight around her neck.

A post-mortem examination found pressure had been applied for at least a minute in a "deliberate and sustained" act, said Mr Atkinson.

The court heard Da Silva was arrested and charged with the murder and remanded in secure accommodation at Ealing Hospital, west London, and an assessment of his mental health was being carried out.

Mr Atkinson said: "During a fire drill he escaped from the hospital and thereafter from the country. He remained untraced until 2009 when he was arrested in Spain under a European arrest warrant.

"The consequence of the defendant literally going over the wall at the hospital back in 1995 is that the assessment of his mental health was far from complete at the time."

Mr Atkinson told jurors there was no dispute that Da Silva killed Ms Martin but the issue they would have to decide on was his mental health at the time.

He said they would want to consider whether, if he was suffering from a mental illness, it was the cause of or the result of his actions and the time he had spent in prison.

Da Silva, now aged 40, denies murder.

Tapes and transcripts of his original police interviews have gone missing since the time he was first arrested. He was brought back to Britain in March this year.

The court heard Ms Martin, who had a daughter in her 20s, had moved to London from Manchester after separating from her husband.