A man accused of strangling a prostitute appeared subdued and unlike his normal self in the hours after he allegedly murdered her, a court heard today.
Neil McMillan, 42, had arranged to pay 29-year-old transgender escort Andrea Waddell £140 for an hour at her one-bedroom flat in Brighton, East Sussex.
He had spent the earlier part of the evening trawling pornography and escort websites on his laptop computer in a pub while consuming seven pints of beer, jurors were told.
Lewes Crown Court heard that he visited the Adult Works website where Ms Waddell - who had a Master's degree in social and political thought - had four different profiles advertising her services.
Within an hour of visiting her flat in Upper Lewes Road, McMillan, a satellite installer, is alleged to have strangled her before setting her alight.
McMillan, of Bennett Road, Brighton, denies murdering Ms Waddell on October 15 last year.
Prosecutor Simon Russell Flint QC said that when McMillan returned to his rented room after visiting her, his landlord noticed a change in his demeanour.
He said McMillan appeared "pale faced compared to his usual ruddy look" and that he was quiet and "didn't appear to be his normal self".
"You have to wonder why that may be," Mr Russell Flint told jurors.
McMillan stripped off his clothes and asked his landlord if he could use the washing machine, saying he needed some clothes for work the following day.
In addition, he showered for the second time that evening and removed the laces from the boots he had worn to Ms Waddell's flat that evening.
The following day colleagues also noticed a change in his character, the court heard. Mr Russell Flint said: "When Mr McMillan went to work, colleagues noticed he wasn't his usual self, he seemed subdued and quiet."
Police were brought into investigate after neighbours heard a smoke alarm sounding and firefighters discovered Ms Waddell's body in her burnt-out flat allegedly committed by McMillan.
McMillan asked to speak to two officers in their car and he was later arrested.
In custody, he denied being responsible for her killing, telling officers: "I'm in my 40s and I'm Scottish and I didn't do it."
Mr Russell Flint outlined Ms Waddell's transgender background, detailing how she was born on June 18, 1980 as Alexander Waddell.
He said: "When she was aged 24, after many years of wanting to live as a woman, having received extensive psychological and psychiatric therapy, Andrea received male to female reassignment surgery."
Ms Waddell had first shown an interest in the transgender community during her gap year.
She had travelled to Prague to teach English and became involved in the transgender scene there, Mr Russell Flint said.
When she returned to England she studied at Durham University and it was while there that she made the decision to become Andrea and change her name by deed poll.
After graduating, she successfully enrolled on to Master's degree course at the University of Sussex, studying social and political thought.
Following her gender realignment surgery, she had to have emergency surgery for severe ulcerative colitis and in addition suffered from fibromyalgia, which causes painful muscles, abdominal problems, sleeplessness and depression.
Mr Russell Flint said that after completing her Master's degree, she started holistic therapy.
"Being keen and eager to learn, the temptation of extra work by providing extra services seems to have seen her move into the world of a sex worker," he said.
In his first police interview, McMillan said that he had contacted "two or three girls" via the Adult Works website. He called Ms Waddell and agreed a price of £140 for an hour of her time.
When inside her flat, he told officers that she dropped the price to £90 because she could only give him half an hour as someone else was due to arrive.
During his time there, he said he heard a key being entered into the door of the flat and appeared to hear someone go to another part of the building.
After getting changed, McMillan said in interview that the last image he had of Ms Waddell was of her bending over in the bathroom cupping water to her mouth.
He said he then went to a taxi rank, had a cigarette, spoke to his landlord and then went to bed after returning to his rented accommodation.
Mr Russell Flint told how McMillan and Ms Waddell had contact days before her death on October 2 while he was renting a room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Brighton.
He said: "It was during that time that the defendant must have accessed the Adult Works website and viewed Andrea's profile.
"Andrea's telephone records show that there were a number of calls on October 2 into the early hours of October 3 between Andrea and the defendant, Mr McMillan."
Mr Russell Flint said it appeared that McMillan had booked her for an out call and that she went to the Cosmopolitan Hotel but was refused entry by a night porter who "from her attire and her demeanour" believed she was a call girl.
Jurors were told that Ms Waddell tried to telephone McMillan but he failed to answer. Later, at 11.12pm, she sent him a text message, saying: "So you think it's cool to waste my time???"
But, Mr Russell Flint added, the pair appeared to "make it up" and spent about six minutes on the telephone together on the morning of October 3.
Days later, on the evening Ms Waddell was killed, McMillan took a taxi to her road and the driver noted McMillan was "getting very worked up and angry", Mr Russell Flint said.
"The taxi dropped him off in the Upper Lewes Road area and telephoned Andrea," he said.
"And it was after that, we say, in a drunken and angry mood, the defendant made his way into the block of flats, up the stairs and within an hour Andrea Waddell was dead and her flat was set on fire in two separate locations in the bedroom."
Mr Russell Flint said the fires were set deliberately, that the flames could not have "hopped" and that electrical faults were not to blame.
In interview, McMillan was told by police that she was transgender.
"He said that he would not have been with her if he had known she was a transwoman as he was a straight man," said Mr Russell Flint.
He added that McMillan said he would not hurt someone for being "cross-gender as he put it".
"It's our case that the defendant, Neil McMillan, is the man who killed Andrea, having spent the evening accessing pornography and escort sites on his computer.
"He made his appointment for an hour, withdrew enough cash for his appointment and arrived at her address at 10.30pm and left at around 11.30pm, by which time Andrea was dead, brutally strangled and set alight.
"When he did get home, he rapidly changed out of, and insisted on washing, the clothes he had been wearing in Andrea's flat and he had another shower."
Mr Russell Flint questioned whether the killing occurred after he discovered she was transgender or been unable, through her physical condition, to perform sexually for him.
He went on: "The defendant's account that there was an unnamed stranger lurking in the flat is, we would contend, a complete fiction.
"It's an account, we would suggest, unsupported by others in the flat, from her telephone and computer records and from other bookings she had on that night."
Ms Waddell's mother, Sonia Waddell, detailed her daughter's history of ill health, describing her as "my brave, loving daughter".
She spoke of the freedom it gave her daughter when she finally had her gender surgery. Mrs Waddell said: "It was wonderful.
"When you are living as a girl when you haven't had your gender surgery, life is all very embarrassing. It was lovely for her after that."
Mrs Waddell described their family as "close" and told how she would visit every fortnight to take her daughter out to lunch and help her tidy her flat.
Mrs Waddell said her daughter had bought her flat outright following an inheritance and that she had bought her a Suzuki car for her last birthday.
During cross-examination by Camden Pratt QC, Mrs Waddell told how her daughter had lost her flat keys on at least two occasions.
"She was a rather scatty girl," said Mrs Waddell. "She was always losing things. She once had her keys stolen in a nightclub and she rang me in the middle of the night."
Mrs Waddell said her daughter reassured her that there was nothing on the keys which would identify her flat.
The case was adjourned to 10am tomorrow.