Updated: ‘I’m disgusted with myself’ says man accused of murdering Marston teenager

Hannah Pearson.
Hannah Pearson.

A former McDonald’s worker who strangled his pal’s 16-year-old girlfriend just hours after they met told a court he is ‘disgusted with himself’ for causing her death.

James Morton, who prosecutors say enjoyed choking women during sex, killed Hannah Pearson in a bedroom at the home in Newark.

The naked and unconscious teenager was rushed to hospital when Morton called 999 – but doctors pronounced her dead shortly after arrival.

Morton, 24, admits putting Pizza Express waitress Hannah, who had drunk so much she was struggling to stand, in bed then climbing in next to her and squeezing her throat until she was dead.

However, he denies murder, claiming her death took place accidentally as part of a sex game gone wrong after she kissed him first.

Morton, who had lost his job at a McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant a week before Hannah died, denied any wrongdoing while giving evidence in his own defence at a Nottingham Crown Court trial.

He said he sat across her and put a hand around Hannah’s neck, telling her that if she didn’t like it she should ask him to stop.

Asked by Sean Smith QC, defending, if he meant to do Hannah any harm, he replied: “No, not at all.”

But under cross-examination from Michael Evans QC, prosecuting, today (Friday), he accepted he ‘had a problem’ when it came to his desire of strangling women, and ‘needed help’.

However, Morton continued to deny he had deliberately killed the schoolgirl. He told the court: “It was an accident as I have said from day one.

“At no point was I ever intending Hannah to die.

“Do you not realise how disgusted I am with myself because of what happened? How much grief and guilt I have had? I didn’t eat for the first two weeks. I still have flashbacks now.

“No amount of grief or guilt can ever make it better because Hannah is still dead. I can’t change that.”

Morton added: “At no point did she try to put her hands on my wrist to push me away. We were both drunk. It was a situation we would not normally be in.

“I got too carried away with what was happening.”

He claimed Hannah had ‘started it’ by kissing him, but admitted he hadn’t asked if it was ok before he started strangling her.

The court has heard that on the day she died Hannah, of Marston, Lincs, met up with her boyfriend, Jed Hope, in a pub in Lincoln to celebrate Mr Hope’s 19th birthday on July 23 last year.

Morton, a ‘close’ friend of Mr Hope’s, was already at the pub when Hannah arrived. It was the first time she had met her alleged killer.

The trio drank in the pub and bought more alcohol at a convenience store before Morton, whose parents were away, invited the couple to his house.

Mr Hope said he could not afford the train fare but wasn’t allowed overnight visitors at his home so Hannah, who had told her mother she would be staying over at someone’s house, went alone - with the intention her boyfriend would join them there early the next morning.

Jurors heard that Morton’s parents were away from the house on holiday when Hannah died.

Prosecutor Mr Evans, opening the case last week, alleged Morton was responsible for Hannah’s death.

Mr Evans told jurors: “This was no accident. He was someone who increasingly enjoyed the sensation of strangling women. He knew it was dangerous, that is what turned him on.

“The defendant admitted to enjoying the sensation of strangling women during sex. He admitted enjoying the feeling of domination.

“We suggest, on the evidence you will hear, that it would have been obvious to him that he was causing really serious harm. We say that on this night, his increasing obsession with strangulation reached a different level.

“On his own account, he was sober, she was not. He was in control, she was not. And by his description, he knew exactly what he was doing.”

The trial continues.