A man murdered his teenage ex-girlfriend after finding out she was pregnant with his child and then buried her in his uncle’s grave, a court heard today.
Ben Blakeley, 22, killed 17-year-old Jayden Parkinson in countryside south of Didcot, Oxfordshire, on December 3 last year, Oxford Crown Court heard.
Blakeley was accused of being obsessive and controlling and regularly beat Jayden. The court also heard he had taken pictures and video of a sexual nature of the teenager and was threatening to post them on social media sites.
Her body was found in an established grave at All Saints’ churchyard in Didcot, Oxfordshire, on December 18 last year, after she was last seen alive on December 3.
The grave belonged to Alan Kennedy, Blakeley’s uncle, who had died in 2006. Forensic excavations recovered Jayden’s body from the grave.
A post-mortem examination found that she died as a result of pressure to the neck.
The teenager also had ‘relatively widespread’ areas of bruising to her face and scalp which was indicative of being caused by a fist or foot.
The pathologist could not rule out whether she was pregnant when she died.
Richard Latham QC, prosecuting, told the jury of five men and seven women that Jayden had been living at the One Foot Forward hostel in Oxford when she disappeared.
She was captured on CCTV leaving the hostel – where she had been a resident for four weeks – at 3.31pm on December 3.
Mr Latham said that at 4.06pm Jayden was caught on CCTV at Oxford railway station with Blakeley.
At 4.27pm a security camera recorded the last known sighting of Jayden as she arrived at Didcot railway station with her ex-boyfriend.
Shortly after midnight, staff at One Foot Forward reported Jayden missing after she failed to return to the hostel.
Mr Latham said: ‘The prosecution case is that Jayden was killed by Ben Blakeley that same evening in open countryside south of Didcot – there is no dispute between prosecution and defence.
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‘We cannot be precise about location for this simple reason – unlike most killings the body was moved from where the offence occurred.
‘There is only one person alive who knows the truth and we would invite you to be very sceptical about what he says or has said.’
Blakeley, of Christchurch Road, Reading, Berkshire, has denied murdering the teenager but has admitted killing her and disposing of her body.
But the prosecution refused to accept his plea and he has now gone on trial alongside a 17-year-old boy.
The youth, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, pleaded guilty this morning to a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. But he denied a charge of preventing a lawful burial between December 2 and December 10 last year.
Mr Latham said it was not disputed that Jayden died at the hands of Blakeley on December 3 – as he admits her manslaughter – but was denying her murder.
‘Ben Blakeley and Jayden had been in a relationship for some time before her death,’ Mr Latham said.
He added: ‘On any view it was difficult. We allege he was controlling, to an obsessive and excessive degree.
‘He was violent and abusive to her and controlling and hitting her.
‘The relationship seems to have come to an end around November 23 last year – so very shortly before her death.’
Mr Latham told jurors that Jayden found the ending of the relationship difficult.
‘She found it difficult to let go and hours before her death she left the hostel to meet him – it was the last time she was seen alive,’ the prosecutor said.
The jury heard that Blakeley had made 13 videos of Jayden and taken 30 pictures of her naked and she told staff at the hostel that he was threatening to put them on Facebook.
Mr Latham told the court about the full extent of the controlling behaviour Blakeley allegedly exerted over the teenager.
He said that when Jayden first moved to the hostel she would remain in her room on his orders.
‘Jayden explained to a member of staff that she had a boyfriend and she was not coming out of her room because he had told her not to,’ he said.
‘She was not even to come out of her room for food and was eating crisps and biscuits. She was not allowed to speak to anyone and as a result she had lost all her friends.
‘She was not allowed to shower and had to go to Blakeley’s grandmother’s house in Didcot. She was not allowed to use the toilet and had to use a bottle.’
Mr Latham added: ‘He told her that he knew other people that lived at the hostel and they would report any transgressions to him.’
The court also heard that Blakeley told Jayden he had strangled a previous girlfriend and he had also thrown away the teenager’s keys and mobile phone.
Mr Latham said: ‘He made her feel it was her fault that he needed to hit her.
‘You may think this is a classic sign of a bullying and abusive relationship – somehow making the victim feel it is their fault.’
After splitting up with Blakeley, Jayden reported to police the allegations about the videos on November 27.
She told police that Blakeley had asked if they could get back together but she refused because she had ‘had enough of his possessive, controlling and abusive behaviour’.
She told officers: ‘He became angry and called me a whore and he then said the videos and photographs would end up on BlackBerry Messenger and Facebook.
‘He told me that “when you see them I hope you kill yourself by jumping off a bridge”.
‘I am terrified he will send them everywhere, which will ruin my life, and I want them deleted.’
The court was told that staff had heard Jayden was not using contraception and asked her to take a pregnancy test on December 2, which proved positive.
The teenager indicated that the father of the unborn child was Blakeley.
As he had confiscated her mobile phone, Jayden asked to use the phone in the hotel’s office in front of staff to ring Blakeley, a call which lasted 45 minutes.
‘He was angry and abusive and saying it was someone else’s and not him that was the father,’ Mr Latham said.
‘It seems on an earlier occasion she had told him that she had slept with someone else.’
The jury heard that the next day – the day of Jayden’s death – she took another pregnancy test which also proved positive and again rang Blakeley.
‘He became angry and called me a whore and he then said the videos and photographs would end up on BlackBerry Messenger and Facebook
‘He told me that “when you see them I hope you kill yourself by jumping off a bridge”‘
– Jayden Parkinson, talking to police shortly before she died
Mr Latham said Jayden told hostel staff that she wanted to meet up with her ex to ‘persuade’ him that he was the father even though they questioned the ‘advisability’ of doing so.
Jayden left One Foot Forward at 3.31pm and met Blakeley at Oxford railway station before they travelled together to Didcot.
The teenager was last seen alive arriving at Didcot at 4.27pm.
Staff at the hostel reported Jayden missing shortly after midnight on December 4 when she failed to return.
Coincidentally, later that day, police, who were investigating Jayden’s complaint about the video and photographs, arrested Blakeley on suspicion of possessing incident images.
Mr Latham said: ‘He killed her on December 3 but here he is on December 4 talking about her as if she was still alive.’
Blakeley denied possessing indecent images of Jayden, telling police: ‘I am saying it is more than f****** lies… I want to see them.’
Mr Latham said: ‘He was becoming aggressive in this interview.’
The police officers asked Blakeley whether he had had much contact with Jayden since they split up.
‘I try to have least contact with her as possible because she does drama like this,’ Blakeley told police.
Asked why Jayden would have made up the allegations, Blakeley replied: ‘Because I must have broken up with her or something… I don’t know.’
Jurors were also told that a taxi driver had positively identified picking up Blakeley with a large suitcase on December 9.
Mr Latham said he would be ‘inviting the jury to infer’ that by then Blakeley’s co-accused – who cannot be named – knew he had killed Jayden ‘and was being asked to help move the body’.
The prosecutor said that a taxi driver picked up a fare – later identified as Blakeley – in the Upton area during the early hours of December 9.
‘He said he wanted to pick up a suitcase because his girlfriend had kicked him out and he had intended to walk to Didcot but the suitcase was too heavy and he had left it down a track,’ he said.
The taxi driver drove Blakeley down the dark track to the suitcase.
‘The taxi driver describes the case as being more of a trunk than a case,’ he said.
‘It was so heavy that when the defendant tried lifting it into the boot of the taxi the taxi driver got out to help because he was concerned it was going to damage the boot of the taxi as he tried to lift it in.’
Blakeley asked to be taken to All Saint’s Church in Didcot, arriving at 2.15am.
‘The prosecution’s case is that having got out of the taxi and the taxi driver helping to unload the case, he was last seen walking away from the taxi, walking up the path towards the church,’ Mr Latham said.
He said the phone records could put Blakeley and his co-defendant at the church between 2.15am and 4.45am.
‘It is the prosecution’s case that between those two times these two defendants were burying the body of Jayden Parkinson in a grave,’ he said.
Mr Latham said that at 5.25am Blakeley and the youth were caught on CCTV at Didcot railway station waiting for a train, where they then went their separate ways.
At 5.58am Blakeley arrives at Reading station and CCTV footage shows his clothing stained with mud. At 6.11am Blakeley had a two minute mobile phone conversation with his co-accused.
Blakeley ‘had talked about hiding a body in a family grave when he was as young as 13’
Earlier the court heard that a care worker contacted police after hearing Blakeley had been arrested. She will tell jurors that Blakeley had been a resident at a home when he was aged 13 or 14.
‘She recalled a conversation that she had with Blakeley years earlier,’ Mr Latham said. ‘He said that if he ever had to get rid of a body he would put it in a family member’s grave. Rather a strange thing for a 13 or 14-year-old to say.
‘She asked him why he would do that and the answer he gave was that the bones would get mixed up and cause confusion. The DNA would rub off and no one would bother looking in a grave.’
The court heard that Blakeley asked his grandmother to wash muddy clothing belonging to Blakeley as well as two pairs of trainers.
The woman later discovered a suitcase – not the one used to move the dead girl’s body – and clothing in her dustbin which her grandson insisted ‘had nothing to do with Jayden’.
‘She had been with another guy, so f*** her, she can do what she likes – it’s nothing to do with me.
‘To be honest I don’t give a f***. I don’t care, she’s not my girlfriend any more.
‘I just can’t believe I am here right now for this kidnap’
– Blakeley, speaking to police after Jayden’s disappearance
The clothing and trainers were later recovered by police from a recycling skip. The suitcase used to transport Jayden was also found. On the morning of December 5 police rang the youth asking if he had seen Jayden.
He replied: ‘I don’t give a f***, don’t ring me again.’
On December 7 Blakeley was spoken to again and told officers he had last spoken to Jayden two days previously.
‘She asked for money and he didn’t know what that was for, he didn’t ask,’ Mr Latham said.
‘For some reason he believed it was for a train fare but he didn’t elaborate why he thought this. He was also trying to contact her and he tried contacting her at One Foot Forward last night.
‘She had been dead for days and he knew she had been dead for days because he admits he killed her. You must approach this case with the knowledge that he is a proven and constant liar.’
When Blakeley was arrested on December 11 on suspicion of kidnapping Jayden, he told police: ‘She had been with another guy, so f*** her, she can do what she likes – it’s nothing to do with me.
‘To be honest I don’t give a f***. I don’t care, she’s not my girlfriend any more. I just can’t believe I am here right now for this kidnap.
‘To be honest I don’t give a shit where she is. If she has got a new boyfriend he can deal with it. I don’t want to sound nasty but that’s how it is.’
On December 12 Blakeley was arrested on suspicion of murder and replied ‘no comment’ to all questions.
Mr Latham said: ‘It does mean there has been no explanation whatsoever, now he has admitted her killing, concerning the circumstances and the location.’
The court heard that Blakeley told a prison chaplain that he ‘deserved the sentence for what he had done’. He also told a prison governor that he had ‘done everything’ to save Jayden and told a prison health worker that he ‘didn’t mean to kill her’.
‘He needed that health care assistant to know that he hadn’t just chucked her in the hole he had dug, but while he was saying this he was smiling,’ Mr Latham said.
‘He said, “If I could take it back I would, but now I have told you that can I have a television?”.’
The youth was arrested on December 13 and said he was ‘not getting into any shit’ for his co-defendant. Later he provided information to his lawyers, which was passed to police, that gave the location of a grave in All Saints’ churchyard where Jayden’s body was buried.