Online stalker 'killed man out of hatred and obsession'

An internet gaming fanatic flew from his home in Germany to lie in wait and stab a British student to death after becoming obsessed with his victim's girlfriend, a court heard yesterday.

David Heiss stabbed 20-year-old Matthew Pyke 86 times in a "savage and sustained" attack, Nottingham Crown Court was told.

The 21-year-old acted out of "hatred and obsession", after becoming fixated with Joanna Witton, stalking her via Warcentral.com, an online gaming site she ran with her boyfriend from their home.

Shaun Smith QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that the murder took place on 19 September last year and added: "It was a cold, calculated and pre-meditated attack."

The jury was told that Mr Heiss was one of 40 regular users of the website which Mr Pyke and Ms Witton, 20, set up in December 2007. Mr Pyke used the alias Shade while his girlfriend called herself Jojo. They first came across Mr Heiss in March last year, when he contacted Miss Witton, telling her that he had a crush on her.

Despite Miss Witton's insistence that she was in a relationship with Mr Pyke, Mr Heiss continued to send her messages declaring his love. And, in June, he turned up at her home in Nottingham unannounced.

Mr Heiss returned to Germany a month later. Then in July he visited the couple again and begged Miss Witton not to block him from the website. But in August she decided to do so.

The following month, he allegedly made a final trip to Britain to kill Mr Pyke. Arriving at Birmingham International airport on 18 September at 9.15pm, he made his way to Nottingham, arriving in the city at 12.26am. He slept outside their flat and the following morning watched as Miss Witton left for work.

Later, as Mr Pyke opened the door to his flat, the court heard, Mr Heiss launched his attack. Grisly pictures seen by the jury showed the trail of blood from the doorway to the splattered walls, to shoes and trainers and finally to the bedroom floor.

After the attack, Mr Heiss allegedly changed into another set of clothes he had taken on the trip, borrowed a pair of his victim's boots and a baseball cap, and set about trying to make the attack look like a robbery.

After removing items from the flat, he embarked on his return journey to Germany. Discarding his weapon en route, he arrived back in his home country early that afternoon. The alarm was only raised when Miss Witton became concerned that her boyfriend was not responding to text messages.

In the days after the murder, the court heard, Mr Heiss was back online. He told friends he had nothing to do with the killing and said he wanted to attend his funeral. But in interviews with police after his arrest, Mr Heiss told detectives he did stab Mr Pyke "indiscriminately". Mr Heiss, 21, an office worker from Limburg, near Frankfurt, denies murder. The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf