Teenager stabbed 15 times: murder trial hears

A "jealous and controlling" ex-boyfriend stabbed the daughter of a senior police detective to death after she started seeing another man, a court heard.

Dellwyn James, 31, allegedly launched a frenzied attack on HSBC bank clerk Rae Torbet, 19, with two kitchen knives after their relationship ended.

Miss Torbet, daughter of Det Chief Insp Jim Torbet, a Sussex Police officer based in Eastbourne, died from 15 stab wounds to the neck and face after the attack in her home in Cantelupe Road, Bexhill.

Lewes Crown Court heard how Miss Torbet had started seeing James in August last year, but split up with him shortly before her murder after he accused her of seeing another man.

Prosecutor Philip Katz QC said: "He was a jealous and controlling boyfriend and in his own admission to police he had provoked a row with her by falsely accusing her of going out with someone else.

"The prosecution say two weeks after that he went to her flat, getting in with a key he had tricked out of a friend, and killed her. Rae Torbet was 19 at the time of her death, this defendant was 31. She was described as a hard working young woman with lots of friends and much liked.

"After she had ended the relationship, the defendant bombarded her with telephone calls and text messages.

"Just before she was killed she had started seeing a new boyfriend and spent time and nights with him. She was getting on with her life.

"She was over the relationship and she was making a fresh start. The defendant however was rather less than content and on March 16 he indulged in what was a so-called overdose."

Mr Katz said friends of Miss Torbet had asked James to stay away from her, including her father, Det Chief Insp Jim Torbet."

The court heard 11 days before he allegedly murdered Miss Torbet, James, a fork-lift truck driver, had taken an overdose of paracetamol and vodka.

Mr Katz said: "He managed to arrange it so he was discovered by Rae Torbet."

The court heard following this, James had been admitted into a mental health crisis unit and prescribed anti depressants and sleeping tablets for an "adjustment reaction".

He said it was after he was discharged, he went to stay with Cara Bavistock, another ex-girlfriend, at her home in Hastings.

Mr Katz said it was while staying with Miss Bavistock he allegedly killed Miss Torbet after she had arrived home from work on March 27. The jury heard Miss Torbet, who worked in Hailsham had died after sustaining at least 15 stab wounds to the face and neck from two kitchen knives — with such force that one knife was bent.

Mr Katz said her body was found by a colleague at the HSBC who called around to her flat when staff became worried because she didn't turn up for work the day after she was killed in March.

He said: "She had the unpleasant shock of finding Rae Torbet, dead with a knife sticking out of her neck, just as this defendant had left her.

"There were signs of a struggle and music was coming from the television. This was a vicious attack, murder, with two knives on this young woman and it was done quite deliberately with intent to kill her.

"One was a bread knife and had been used with such force that it had bent before being discarded."

After allegedly killing Miss Torbet, James had arrived at the flat of Miss Bavistock covered in blood.

Mr Katz said he had driven Miss Torbet's red Citroen Saxo after killing her and that her blood was found on the gear stick. "He told Cara he had been to see Rae and that Rae's mother, brother, step father and his building mates had all been there."

Mr Katz said James had claimed there had been a "big fight" with Rae's family and that he had run off.

The court heard following this, James was admitted to Conquest Hospital, in Hastings, having taken more of his prescribed medication.

Medics there became suspicious after realising he had no injury to explain the amount of blood on his clothing the court heard.

After he was arrested, James told police he could remember nothing about the day from the point where he met his mother for an alcoholic drink and waking up in hospital.

Mr Katz said: "What he did say when asked whether he killed Rae Torbet is that he did not believe he did."

Home Office pathologist Dr Vesna Djurovic told the jury that Miss Torbet had died as a result of the stab wounds to her neck.

She said that there was also a further stab wound to her back which although not responsible for her death, had been inflicted with "severe force" which damaged her ribs.

She said: "She suffered major stab wounds to the neck causing damage to major blood vessels leading to severe bleeding.

"The exact number of blows with a knife couldn't be determined with certainty but in my opinion there were in the region of 15 penetrative wounds to the face and neck.

"The wounds to the neck, right arm and left thigh could have been inflicted with the use of normal to moderate force provided the tip of the knife used was sharp pointed."

She added that Miss Torbet would probably have collapsed a maximum of one-two minutes after the stab wounds to the neck were inflicted.

Dr Djurovic also told the jury that the large stab wound to Miss Torbet's back, probably inflicted towards the end of the attack, was most likely to have caused the kitchen knife to bend.

A senior Sussex police detective broke down in tears as he gave evidence at the trial of a man accused of murdering his daughter in a frenzied knife attack.

Det Chief Insp James Torbet told a jury how he had telephoned Dellwyn James to ask him to stop bombarding his daughter with text messages after they split up.

The Sussex Police officer said that his daughter, a bank clerk for HSBC, had seemed "happy and confident" the last time he spoke to her on the day she was killed.

He said that he had telephoned James the evening after the fork-lift driver had taken an overdose of paracetamol and vodka - and allegedly arranged to be found unconscious by Miss Torbet.

He told Lewes Crown Court: "It was the evening when he first allegedly attempted to commit suicide. Rae had phoned me earlier in the evening.

"It was gone midnight and I phoned him. Once I spoke the phone was hung up on me. A few minutes later I then phoned again and spoke to Mr James on the phone.

"It was my impression he hung up because he knew who I was. He had been bombarding my daughter with text messages and phone calls. He had gone through this alleged suicide attempt that night and I felt he had trapped my daughter into coming over and finding him at the house.

"I advised him effectively that my daughter was still a very young woman and he was much older. She needed a bit of space, time.

He said the last time he spoke to her was as she was driving home on the day she was killed.

He said: "I phoned Rae as she was on her way home. She was bubbly, she was happy. She seemed perfectly happy, perfectly content and was a lot more confident and bubbly than she had been for a while."

Rae's mother Zoe Marfleet told the court how James had allegedly engineered the situation where she found him having taken an overdose.

"The next day he phoned me at home and he said, 'Could Rae give me a second chance?' and I laughed and said, 'A second chance? You've had plenty of chances.'

"He kept saying things like, 'Don't you think we could try one more time?' and I said, 'Get over it, she's 19, you are 31. Let her have space,"

She added when she last spoke to Rae, she had been happy.

She said: "She was fine, she was happy she had got back with her friends and we had a laugh and a joke about doing her washing and daft things like that and then she was jolly and happy."

James, of Chiltern Drive, Hastings, denies murder.

The trial continues.