MURDER victim Charlotte Flanagan saved the life of the man who was later to stab her to death, a court heard.

The 22-year-old, described as a girl with a heart of gold by her mother, persuaded Gareth Horton not to commit suicide when he lay down on a rail track in front of an on-coming train.

Six months after the incident, in Darwen last June, Horton stabbed Charlotte to death in her fourth-floor flat above the London pub where she worked, the Old Bailey was told.

Horton, 29, of Walmsley Street, Darwen, has denied murdering Charlotte after a New Year's Eve Vicars and Tarts party.

The jury at the Old Bailey has been told the major issue in the case was whether he was acting with diminished responsibility.

Charlotte and Horton became friends while working for Blackburn with Darwen Council's social services department and he moved into her house in Walmsley Street to help her pay the mortgage.

The court was told Horton jumped onto railway tracks in Darwen as he walked back to the house following a night in a local pub.

He refused to let Charlotte go and she tried to pull him off the track but his 6ft 8in frame proved too much for her.

But she managed to persuade him to move away from the line as a train approached, the jury was told.

Charlotte, a former worker with young children for the Trinity Partnership in Clitheroe, went to work at the Barley Mow pub in Central London for a year before beginning a nursing course.

Horton -- described to the court as being 'emotionally and sexually obsessed' with Charlotte -- followed her to London but became envious when he heard her talking about a new boyfriend.

She suffered a stab wound to the neck and died almost immediately due to heavy blood loss, Home Office pathologist Dr Robert Chapman told the court.

Charlotte's brother, Luke, had an undisputed statement read out to the court which mentioned the railway incident.

In the statement, he said Charlotte was finding Horton hard work at their house because he was always depressed, and that after one trip to the pub, he lay down on the tracks and refused to let go of Charlotte.

"She managed to persuade him to get off as a train approached," the statement said.

Charlotte's mother, Dorothy, told the court that Charlotte had spoken about the railway incident, although she said Charlotte had never mentioned if a train was near by at the time.

When asked by David Spence, defending, if she could imagine her daughter coaxing Horton off the tracks, Mrs Flanagan said: "I can imagine she did but she did not say so to me."

Mr Spence went on to ask Mrs Flanagan if her daughter ever lied to her, to which she replied: "Like all young people, she may have embellished a story, but she never told me an untruth."

The court was told Charlotte began spending more time at the family's home in Melville Gardens, Darwen, before moving to London.

When asked once by Luke why she was not watching a video at home, Charlotte replied: "He's there."

It also emerged that after moving in with Charlotte, Horton spent most of his life-savings on her even though they were not a couple.

Fellow social worker Sharon McBreen told the court that Horton did not seem 'bothered' by the fact that when he paid for a night out they went for a 'blowout' in Manchester but when Charlotte paid, they just had a couple of beers in a local pub.

She said he even said he was considering buying a car for them -- even though he did not have a driving licence.

Ms McBreen also told the court that Horton had told her that a friend of Charlotte's had got him a job in a computer firm in London.

She said: "He once told me they had got engaged. I said 'congratulations' and a couple of minutes later he said he was only joking."

In another statement, a friend of Charlotte's, Amanda Robinson, said that when she and Charlotte went to book a holiday to Ibiza, Horton made three phone calls to her which she was led to believe involved Horton asking her not to go away.

In the statement, Amanda said Charlotte had made it quite clear that she was not attracted to Horton.

Home Office pathologist Dr Chapman said it was possible that Charlotte may have been asleep when the 25cm kitchen knife was aimed at her neck.