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Skydiver killed parachute instructor girlfriend after row over rape allegation then told police: 'Clair liked to have the last word'
20 April 2023, 18:09
A skydiver who stands accused of murdering his fellow freefall instructor girlfriend after a blazing argument told police of the row: "Clair being Clair she liked to have the last word."
Ashley Kemp, 55, a fellow skydiver, is said to have strangled partner Clair Armstrong, 50, to death after she became "hysterical" following a row over allegations that he'd raped a teenage girl while at work.
The argument, which prosecutors claim escalated following a bedroom argument on Saturday, November 5 last year, saw Kemp headbutt his girlfriend repeatedly before throttling her to death.
A court heard how Kemp's "snapped", leaving Ms Armstrong gasping for air in a wardrobe wearing her dressing gown.
Kemp then waited hours after the killing to dial 999, leaving the front door of Ms Armstrong's house open for emergency services.
Kemp admits unlawful killing but denies murder.
Jurors at Grimsby Crown Court heard how when the emergency services arrived, they found Ms Armstrong's body lying in bed beneath the covers, with rigor mortis having already set in.
Resuscitation was not attempted because she was so obviously dead, prosecution witnesses have claimed.
After dialling 999 to make police aware of the murder, Kemp told the call handler: "I've killed my girlfriend. We got into a fight and I ended up strangling her.
"She is upstairs on the bed in the main bedroom. We just had an argument, that was all, and it just got heated. She just started thrashing out and I just reacted. I never react... I pinned her down and just choked her."
Kemp was arrested by police on a grass verge in the early hours of November 6 after crashing his car into a tree on a country lane, 8 miles from his girlfriend's house in Messingham, Lincolnshire.
He had driven through fog before colliding with a tree the court heard, having drunk wine and taken a large quantity of pain killing tablets before attempting to take his own life earlier that night.
The court heard how Armstrong's nose and face were bloodied when emergency services reached her.
Kemp told the court: "We had a normal day - a chilled out day. There was some tension when we went to bed. Clair being Clair she liked to have the last word.
"I was saying the bail being extended was a good thing because they have not been able to find anything yet.
"I was saying 'relax and not think about it' but you cannot tell Clair to 'relax and don't think about things' because she won't.
"It got heated. She advised me to start packing. She was quite hysterical. She went down the stairs and grabbed some black bags. I jumped out of bed," he continued.
"When I moved towards her she lashed out. She had the bags. I jumped out to try and stop her. She just started lashing out at me.
"Because she was pushing me and hitting me, I leant forward and head butted her.
"I just snapped. I wanted her to stop and calm down. That was the only way I could do it - so I did."
Adding he "grabbed her" before he once again "butted her on the forehead", Kemp says she "just recoiled and came back harder."
He claims to have grabbed her throat and "squeezed it as hard as I could until she stopped struggling".
"She was still at at the end of the bed. She fell into the cupboard. She was struggling for breath. I watched her. She was gasping for breath and then she stopped," the court heard.
Kemp also denied he had "pinned her down" - despite saying he had done so earlier during his 999 call.
The trail was adjourned until Thursday when Kemp is expected to give evidence.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised by this article, for confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see www.samaritans.org for details.