City banker Zahid Naseem has been jailed for at least 19 years for murdering Christina Abbotts on her 29th birthday. In a killing fuelled by cocai
City banker Zahid Naseem has been jailed for at least 19 years for murdering Christina Abbotts on her 29th birthday.
In a killing fuelled by cocaine and champagne, Naseem, 48, struck Ms Abbotts 13 times on the back of the head with a ceramic pestle.
The financial consultant claimed he acted in self-defence, saying he feared he was being strangled to death in a sex game gone wrong.
The pair were last seen in public on the evening of 24 May this year, before spending the night together.
Friends became worried when Ms Abbotts failed to turn up to her birthday party in South Kensington the next day.
Police found her dead in her bed when they broke down the door of her flat in Crawley, West Sussex, in the early hours of 26 May.
She died from blunt force trauma and manual strangulation, having been hit on the head 13 times with a pestle.
She had bruises around her neck where she had been strangled, and upwards of 30 defensive wounds, bruising to her hands and back of her forearms.
Police discovered Naseem pretending to be unconscious in the next room.
A video showing Naseem lying on a sofa naked apart from a dressing gown, surrounded by half-drunk glasses of alcohol, drugs paraphernalia and underwear has been shared by Sussex Police.
Paramedics were convinced he was play-acting and when he was arrested in hospital he claimed to have no idea what had happened.
He also claimed he could not remember the incident when he was interviewed by police, but admitted hitting Ms Abbotts when speaking in court.
He claimed it was in self-defence and that a “red mist” may have come over him.
Prosecutor Christopher Tehrani dismissed it as a “pack of lies”, telling him he carried on “relentlessly” during the “savage” attack.
He said Naseem had stayed in the flat for 12 hours after her death – drinking, taking drugs and sending pornographic pictures and videos to other escorts.
Ms Abbotts, who was born in the West Midlands, was described in court as a “socialite” who led a party lifestyle in London.
She had discreetly advertised her services on site AdultWork.com under the pseudonym Tilly Pexton, although her family believed she worked in IT.
Naseem, a freelance risk management consultant, was working for Toronto-Dominion Bank’s London office when he found her profile, which offered overnight rates from £1,000.
He told the court he began using escorts when the “whirlwind romance” with his partner fizzled out and they grew distant.
He hired sex workers, drank alcohol on an almost daily basis and took cocaine for about 10 years. He told the court such behaviour was common in London’s financial district.
Naseem’s lawyer said his client: “had begun more and more to seek solace in the company of escorts and sex workers… And his addictions to alcohol, drugs and sex became an insatiable craving to fulfil his needs.”
The father of two young children, who lives in a £600,000 home in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, earned up to £250,000 a year and had previously worked for investment bank Merrill Lynch.
The jury at Lewes Crown Court found him guilty of murder after four hours of deliberations.
The parents of Ms Abbotts paid tribute to their “loving, caring” daughter and said the picture painted of her in court did not fully reflect who she was and that she “held many legitimate jobs in estate agency and events”.