A YOUNG transgender woman has told a jury what she said happened the night her best friend, with whom she was planning to have a child, was murdered in her flat.
Kayleigh Woods told the jury at Warwick Crown Court that she had not caused tragic Bethany Hill’s death, and did not know in advance that her then-boyfriend was going to kill her.
Woods, 23, of Hertford Road, Stratford, and Jack Williams, 21, who was said to have been living with her at the time, have both pleaded not guilty to Beth’s murder on February 3 last year.
Beth’s body was discovered by the police and paramedics in the bathroom of the ground-floor flat after a 999 call from Woods at just after 7pm.
But by then Beth’s blood-soaked body had been lying in the flat for more than 12 hours, after her throat had been cut.
And prosecutor Stephen Linehan QC has said it was a sadistic killing by Williams, and Woods joined in in a bid to please him.
Giving evidence, in response to questions from her barrister Rachel Brand QC, Woods said she had been named Kyle Lockwood, but identified with being female and began dressing as a woman after leaving school just before her 16th birthday.
She said she had known Williams for about five years before their relationship began – the only serious relationship she had ever had.
Asked what her feelings for him were before Beth died, Woods replied “intense” but added she no longer had any feelings for him.
Woods said she had been allocated the housing association flat in Hertford Road just after her 18th birthday.
She said she had concerns about Williams’ behaviour towards her after he had moved in with her at the end of 2014.
She said he would lock her in the flat when he went to work and had also attacked the bathroom door with a knife when she locked herself in there.
The police attended the flat, and Williams was taken to a psychiatric until in Coventry to get help for his mental health.
But she said things then ‘started getting extreme,’ and he would talk about rape and mass murder.
Woods said there was a later incident when she got home to find a police van outside the flat and Williams being led away.
“He had called the crisis team, and they had alerted the police. He’d said that as soon as I walked through the door he was going to stab me and my dog to death.”
As a result of that incident, Williams was granted bail with a condition that he had no contact with her and did not go to the flat – and they did not see each-other for a while.
But she missed him and got in touch, and Williams, who she said told her he was getting the help he needed and was on medication, moved back in on January 13 last year.
Of Beth, Woods said they had met at college, and became ‘really close,’ with Beth moving in just before Christmas 2015, and they had planned to try to have a baby together by artificial insemination.
She said Beth would self-harm, but it was never serious enough for her to need hospital treatment.
Woods said on the night of Beth’s death they drank almost four bottles of wine between them, and Beth had self-harmed by cutting her legs and she thought she had tried to drink bleach.
“I don’t know if she drank it. I gave her milk. I did suggest an ambulance, but she didn’t want to go to hospital.
“She went into the bedroom. She said she needed to sleep and got into bed. I stayed with her for a while.”
Woods said she was in the living room when Williams got back. She added he “started to get a bit hyperactive, as usual” and after she went to the bathroom came out to see him kneeling on top of Beth in the bedroom.
She said: “I didn’t know what was going on. I thought something was going on between them.”
She then saw Beth stood up in the bedroom doorway, with Williams stood behind her.
Asked by Miss Brand if Beth had any injuries, she said: “All I saw was a bit of blood to her shoulder and arm. She was in her underwear. Jack was behind her shoulder. He had his hood up, so I only saw half his face.
“I went into some sort of shock and the worst mistake of my life, and went through my front door.”
She said she went down to the end of the road before Williams caught up with her.
“That’s when I saw he had a knife and there was blood all over it. He told me not to shout or anything.
“I asked him what had happened, what was going on. I was basically just freaking out. He told me to stop making a scene and walk with him.
“He basically said he did what he did to her.”
She said they walked to the river where Williams threw the knife away, and then returned to the flat, during which she said Williams told her it was his mess and he would sort it out.
Woods said Williams then told her to put anything with blood on it in the bedroom into bin bags, and she ‘didn’t really have much choice’ other than to do as he said.
“At first he said if I don’t help him he was going to do the same to me. He said his plan was to set my flat on fire. He texted one of his friends asking for a petrol can.”
Woods said they left the flat at about 6am, but she returned by herself, but still did not go into the bathroom.
They exchanged texts during which Williams said he had just got his life back together – and Woods, who texted that she would always love him, said she told him she would take the blame.
Woods denied responsibility for causing any of Beth’s injuries.
Questioned by prosecutor Stephen Linehan QC, Woods was asked how long after the killing was it before she stopped loving Williams, and replied: “I don’t really feel anything for him.”
Pressed repeatedly to answer the question of how long it was, she eventually said: “I really don’t know.”
Mr Linehan put to her that she still loved him when she was being interviewed by the police following her arrest, to which Woods responded: “He was the first person I loved.”
Mr Linehan commented: “So the man you say slaughtered this young woman, you still loved.”
Woods, who has told the jury she helped try to clean up the blood afterwards, said: “I didn’t know he’d slaughtered her, but I knew he’d attacked her, yes.”
But the prosecutor pressed: “You knew he had slaughtered her, you knew he had killed her.” She replied: “I knew that, yes.”
Mr Linehan asked: “Do you still say you took no part in that killing?”
And when Woods replied that she did not take part, he asked her: “So how could you go on loving him? How could you continue to love a man who had killed this girl in your flat?”
Woods said: “I hate him, but that part of me will never go. I don’t want to hate him, I don’t want to love him, I don’t want to feel anything towards him.”
Mr Linehan put to her bluntly: “You took part in that killing, didn’t you?” Woods replied: “No.”
Mr Linehan: “And that’s why you continued to love him.” Again she replied simply: “No.”
Of what she said to the emergency operator during her 999 call to the police, he suggested: “You intended that they should believe she had killed herself, didn’t you?”
Woods, who accepted that at first she had told them Beth was suicidal, said: “There was everything going on. There were different things going through my head.”
She said she did not think the police would believe Beth had killed herself, to which Mr Linehan persisted: “There’s no point shrugging your shoulders. Did you intend that the police should believe she’d killed herself?”
When her reply was again non-committal, he said: “I am going to suggest that throughout your evidence you have been doing everything you can to avoid answering the question. Did you intend to give the impression that Bethany Hill had killed herself?”
Woods answered: “I think so, that’s what I said to them.”
Mr Linehan played the 999 call in which Woods said Beth had ‘cut herself and is bleeding everywhere’ and, asked during the call if she knew Beth was dead, she tearfully said she did not.
In response to a question from Mr Linehan, Woods conceded: “This isn’t true. I obviously did know she was dead.”
“So you were lying from the outset,” said Mr Linehan, who asked: “Who were the tears for?”
He went on: “You were crying for yourself. Not even you suggest you were crying tears for Beth. You were crying because of the situation in which you were.” She replied: “That’s what you think. It’s not true.”
Mr Linehan put to her: “You felt not one drop of pity for that girl. All you felt was pity for yourself and fear of what was going to happen.”
Woods responded: “I felt a lot of things. I was absolutely heartbroken. I still can’t get it out of my head to this day that all of this happened.”
Mr Linehan asked: “How could you allege that this young woman who had been murdered had killed herself? How could you find it in your heart to do that?”
She responded: “Because of all the things that had been said earlier on. Earlier on that day a lot of things had been said. Jack said to say this and not to say that.”
Mr Linehan said it had been a lie to tell the police Beth had drunk bleach at 3am, pointing out she had not done so, but Woods insisted: “She tried to.”
He pointed out that she had said in her evidence she had picked up Williams’ phone and gone into the bathroom to check for messages from another young woman, and had come out to see him kneeling on top of Beth on the bed in the bedroom.
Asked why she had not told the police about that, she replied: “Because I blame myself for being paranoid. If I hadn’t taken that phone and gone into the bathroom, maybe none of this this would have happened. It may not have got to the stage where he went into the bedroom.”
Mr Linehan pointed out she had described things taking place over a very short period, when, he suggested, the attack on Beth had actually lasted a long time.
Mr Linehan put to her: “You were taking part in this killing. That is why you were lying about what was taking place.” Woods answered: “No I wasn’t.”
The trial continues.