A YOUNG Stratford woman was bound with duct tape before her throat was cut in what a jury has been told was a brutal and sadistic murder in the flat she shared with her alleged killers.
And after waiting several hours before reporting tragic Bethany Hill’s death, Jack Williams and his transgender partner Kayleigh Woods ‘spun a web of lies,’ a jury has been told.
Williams, 21, of Redlands Crescent, Stratford, but who was said to have been living with Woods at the time, and Woods, 23, of Hertford Road, Stratford, have both pleaded not guilty to Bethany’s murder in February last year.
But prosecutor Stephen Linehan QC has told the jury: “We submit you will conclude it was a sadistic killing by Williams, and that Kayleigh Woods joined in in a bid to please him.”
Bethany, known as Beth, had been killed by having her neck cut, severing the jugular vein, during an incident in Woods’ flat, where she was also living at the time.
The police first became aware of her death when Woods made a 999 call at 7.07pm Wednesday February 3, saying: “Well, I think, well, well my best friend’s dead in my flat.”
Mr Linehan told the jury: “What Kayleigh Woods was saying was that her friend had killed herself whilst she was out of the flat, and that she had returned to find blood everywhere and had cleaned up before calling the police.
“All those things were lies. Bethany Hill had not died as a result of cutting herself, she had been brutally murdered.
“So why was Kayleigh Woods lying in that phone call? She lied because she was one of the two people who had taken part in killing Bethany Hill. The other was the defendant Jack Williams.
“From the moment they murdered Bethany Hill, these two set about trying to cover up the truth of what they had done. Those efforts have continued from that day to this, and they will continue throughout this trial.”
Mr Linehan said 20-year-old Beth had been brought up at her parents’ home in Bidford-on-Avon where she met Williams, who also grew up in Bidford, and they had a very brief relationship.
Beth went to live with her elder sister when she was almost 16, later leaving there to move to Stratford where she began a course at Stratford College.
Meanwhile Williams, whose parents had separated, also moved from Bidford to Stratford to live with his father, who had remarried, in Redlands Road.
It was while Beth was at college that she met and became friendly with Woods, who had been christened Kyle Lockwood, and it was ‘a friendship that was to have terrible consequences.’
Mr Linehan explained: “You will note I say ‘she,’ and I do so because the defendant is a person described as transgender, in her case born with the physical sex characteristics of a male, but having the gender identity and expression of a female.”
It may have been Beth who introduced Williams to Woods in 2014, and after they began a relationship, Williams moved in with Woods, with whom he had a sexual relationship although Woods had not had any reconstructive surgery.
In January 2015 Beth, who was ‘a troubled young woman,’ returned to live with her parents, having dropped out of college, and sought help because she had been self-harming, cutting herself, although not in a serious way.
Meanwhile, in October 2015, Woods had called the police to complain of Williams having threatened her with a knife, as a result of which he was arrested and subsequently put on probation with a condition that he did not return to the flat.
Having returned to his father’s home, his step-mother got Williams a job at A M Bailey, a food preparation business, where he worked from 6pm to midnight or 1am.
By then Beth had left her parents’ home again and gone to live at the flat in Hertford Road, where the relationship between her and Woods was said to be ‘complicated and volatile.’
“Extraordinarily, the two of them were planning that Beth would have a child fathered by Kayleigh Woods.”
Woods, who Mr Linehan described as ‘a determined and accomplished liar,’ see-sawed between claiming to be very fond of Beth and saying she hated her.
When in January last year Woods and Williams got back together, he moved back into the flat, where they slept in the living room while Beth had the bedroom, although his family were not told because of the order banning him from being there, and he went there every night after finishing work.
“After the killing the defendants took advantage of the fact no-one knew Williams was living there and tried to create a false story to explain Beth’s death, that Beth killed herself.”
Mr Linehan said that on February 2 Williams went to work, leaving Beth and Woods in the flat, and returned at 1am.
“During the early hours of that morning he and Kayleigh Woods took part in the murder of Beth Hill.
“Only these two defendants know precisely what happened and precisely what role each of them played, but they have never told the truth of what happened.
“Each has spun a web of lies in order to conceal the truth, but the evidence you will hear drives one to the conclusion that they took part together in the killing.”
He said the evidence was that the murder was not carried out quickly, and that Beth’s wrists were bound with duct tape ‘and a blade was used to inflict repeated cuts to the back of her neck before she was killed by her jugular vein being cut through.’
“She bled to death in the bathroom. We submit you will conclude it was a sadistic killing by Williams, and that Kayleigh Woods joined in in a bid to please him.
“It doesn’t matter whether you can be certain as to why they did it, but that you can be sure they did do it.”
Mr Linehan said the killing had taken place at some time between Williams returning to the flat and 6am.
So by the time Woods called 999, Beth had been lying dead for over 12 hours, and paramedics who then went to the scene found that rigor mortis had set in.
Woods had gone to Paddock Lane before making the call, and other officers went there and sat with her in their car, during which she claimed Beth had ‘always been suicidal’ and had drunk bleach that morning.
She claimed she had left the flat at 7am, and that when she returned at 5pm she knew Beth was dead and ‘just wanted to clean up’ because there was a lot of blood, although she did not see Beth in the bathroom.
But after being taken to Stratford police station Woods, who had smashed the sim card from her phone after calling the police, and disposed of the phone, tried to get rid of Beth’s phone in a bin in the toilets.
After it was found, Woods was told she was being arrested on suspicion of murder, and ‘realised immediately that the story of suicide was blown.’
And Mr Linehan commented: “The suicide story, which had been intended to protect both her and Williams, was no longer possible; so she formed a new plan to protect herself.”
When she was later interviewed she tried to place all the blame on Williams and pretended to have taken part in the cover-up only because she was frightened of him.
Woods said that she was in the sitting room at about 1am when someone arrived who had been coming there at that time for about two weeks, although she did not name Williams.
She said he then left the room, and she found him in the bedroom on top of Beth and thought he was trying to kiss her, so left the flat to try to get her head around what was going on.
Woods continued: “That’s when he’s come up behind me with a knife with blood all over it, and looked at me dead in the eye and just said ‘You realise if you say anything, you’re next.”
Mr Linehan alleged that was ‘a complete lie,’ as was her assertion that she had taken part in the cover-up out of fear.
Williams was arrested at work, and when he was then interviewed he claimed he had been at work when he had had a text from Woods and then a phone call asking him to go round.
He said when he arrived Beth was unconscious in bed, and that Woods told him she had been giving Beth pills, about 60 of them, including anti-depressants and ‘sleepers,’ and had then also made her drink bleach.
He said he stood up, but then suffered a blackout, which he had had before because of mental health issues, and came round to see Woods running out of the flat.
So he went after her, and they walked round for some time before he went home and later went to work as normal.
He denied harming Beth, claiming he had no idea what had happened, and that whatever it was must have been done by Woods.
But in a second account he said that when he came round from the blackout he was in the sitting room covered in blood with a knife in his hand, which was then thrown into the river.
He said he could not say whether he had killed Beth or not, but that if he did it had not been intentional.
And of the subsequent lies, he added: “I tried covering things up with Kayleigh because we were scared because we’d both done it. We were both involved in it.”
The trial continues.