A JURY in the trial of a man accused of murdering his pregnant teenage ex-girlfriend has retired for its first full day of deliberations.
The panel of six men and six women were sent out late yesterday afternoon to consider verdicts against Ben Blakeley, 22, and his 17-year-old brother Jake following a three-week trial.
Oxford Crown Court has heard that Jayden Parkinson, 17, died at the hands of her ex-partner Blakeley in the countryside near Didcot, Oxfordshire, on December 3 last year - 24 hours after she told him she was expecting his child.
Violent and controlling Blakeley, of Christchurch Road, Reading, Berkshire, admits the manslaughter of the teenager but denies her murder.
His brother Jake, of Venners Water, Didcot, Oxfordshire, denies a charge of preventing a lawful burial. They have both admitted perverting the course of justice.
The court has heard that, after strangling the teenager, the former binman enlisted the help of his brother to bury Jayden's body in their uncle's grave at All Saints' Church in Didcot, Oxfordshire.
Judge Patrick Eccles QC told the jury today: "Members of the jury, you will be able to retire in a moment to continue with your deliberations. Will you just wait for the jury bailiffs to be sworn."
Earlier he told them to "put out of their minds" any sympathy or compassion they have for Jayden.
He said the jury must carefully assess the evidence from each witness and decide whether they felt it was a truthful and reliable account before returning verdicts.
"It is for you to make that decision, it is your responsibility," the judge said.
"You are here to make those decisions where a young woman aged only 17 died, and died on any view unlawfully, at the hands of Ben Blakeley.
"You must put out of your minds any sympathy or compassion you have for Jayden and her family and you must put out of your minds any sympathy to Ben Blakeley for the tough upbringing he had.
"It is for the prosecution to prove the guilt of the defendants - they do not have to prove their innocence in any way at all.
"In order to prove their guilt, the prosecution must make you sure that the defendants are guilty and if you are sure, you have duty under the oath you swore to return a verdict of guilty.
"If you are not sure, you must return a verdict of not guilty.
"If you are sure that at the time Ben Blakeley intended to cause her really serious harm or intended to kill her, you will convict him of murder. If you are not sure, you will find him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter."
Judge Eccles sent the jury home for the night after deliberating for the whole day.
He told jurors: "Members of the jury you have now reached the point towards the end of the court day and I am going to invite you to separate for the day with the same direction as yesterday - that you must not discuss the case until you have reassembled tomorrow."
The jury will resume deliberations at 9.30am.