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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.