A MAN accused of the murder of his Irish girlfriend, drank prosecco and took cocaine in the hours following her death, a court has heard.
Mother-of-two Kerri McAuley, 32, was found dead at a property in Southalls Way in Norwich, on January 8 this year.
Her boyfriend Joe Storey, 27, is currently on trial at Norfolk Crown Court after he denied her murder but admitted manslaughter.
Previously, the court heard how Ms McAuley – whose father hails from Larne, Co. Antrim – was subjected to a severe blunt force trauma assault.
A Home Office post-mortem revealed she suffered 19 separate injuries to her face, including fractured eye sockets, cheek bones and jaw, following a “brutal, vicious and sustained attack.”
Giving evidence in court yesterday, Kristina Brighten, a friend of Storey’s, said she was contacted by him at about 5am on Sunday, January 8.
Ms Brighten said she had received a number of missed calls from Storey and a message which had said 'help' and 'I need you mate.'
She told Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, that when she answered his call he said that he needed her because 'I’m hurt or she’s hurt,' according to Norwich Evening News.
Ms Brighten said she told him to ring an ambulance and described how she thought she heard Ms McAuley in the background, who either said 'no' or 'Joe' but could not make it out.
Storey then told Ms Brighten that Ms McAuley was drunk.
Ms Brighten also said that Storey had been crying and hysterical on the phone, and later awoke to find she had 16 missed calls from him.
When she called him back, he asked to come over and Ms Brighten said how, when he arrived at 8am, Storey was 'erratic' and 'drunk' and had a half bottle of wine with him, which he continued to drink.
Storey's T-shirt also had 'a lot of blood on it', Ms Brighten said, but Storey explained how he had 'been in a fight with some boys.'
Ms Brighten said Storey, who had a cut on his right hand, had prosecco after finishing the wine and had taken cocaine at her flat before asking Ms Brighten to take him to Ms McAuley's flat.
Ms Brighten said the pair went to the flat between 10am and 11am on January 9 and she waited in the car while Storey had gone into the flat.
When he came back five minutes later Storey said Ms McAuley was not there.
The court heard Ms McAuley’s body was discovered late on Sunday night by her brother and mother who had gone round after her former partner had been unable to contact Ms McAuley to drop off their two children.
The jury also heard from Ms Brighten that Storey had told her that he had assaulted Ms McAuley in December last year.
She said Ms McAuley had posted a message on Facebook following the incident in which she suffered a black eye.
Ms Brighten said Storey had told her they had “had a disagreement and he lost his temper."
She said he told her that they argued when they were drunk and recalled another occasion when, while on a trip abroad, Ms McAuley had come home early after they had an argument about an iPhone.
Earlier the court heard from a barmaid at the Blueberry pub in Norwich who had been working on January 8 when Ms McAuley and Storey came in at about 1am.
She said Storey, who was served about three double Jack Daniels and cokes, did not seem to be drunk but had been “all over the shop."
She said he had ridden a bike round the bar area, smashed a framed Audrey Hepburn picture on the bar and had got “narky” after another man had tried to walk in Ms McAuley’s shoes across the bar.
She said: “He was getting narky because he’d paid a lot of money for them and didn’t want them getting stretched out.”
The barmaid said Storey had also lifted up Ms McAuley and twirled her around a couple of times, which she had not wanted.
She said she checked with Ms McAuley that she was alright before they left the pub at about 4.30am.
The trial continues.