THE FORENSIC pathologist who conducted the postmortem on Debbie Levey said alcohol and smothering were well known as ‘a combination of committing covert homicide’.
The care manager was dead at her home, Cherry Tree Cottage, in East Ashling, on Monday, January 28, 2013.
Her ex-lover Phillip Brown is on trial at Lewes Crown Court for her murder.
Giving evidence at Lewes Crown Court on Monday (January 13), forensic pathologist Olaf Biedrzycki said he had found 44-year-old Ms Levey to be ‘remarkably pale’, when he attended the scene.
A toxicology report also found she had a significant level of alcohol in her system – more than twice the legal limit to drive.
‘In a TV-watching position’
Paramedics attended Cherry Tree Cottage after Ms Levey was discovered by her work colleague Sarah Weekes.
Clinical team leader David Craddock, of the South East Coast Ambulance Service, was the one who first examined her.
“As I walked into the living room, I saw the female on the sofa covered by a throw, head back and the head was resting back between the cushions on the sofa,” he said in court.
He said initially, he thought she had died watching television.
“She looked to be in a TV-watching position on the sofa, as you would be, and my initial reaction was that something had happened and she had died while watching TV.”
She was wearing a black fluffy top, blue jeans and had her legs curled up on a footstool. She was covered up to the chest by a blanket
He found no pulse, noted that she was very cold and also that rigour mortis had started to set in.
By this point, PC Darren Hall and PC Ellen Hughes also arrived at the home and examined the scene.
PC Hall told the court: “There were several lights that were on in the house. I remember it being quite cold, but tidy.”
The television was on, but in standby mode.
PC Hall also spotted Ms Levey’s mobile phone was at the bottom of the fish tank, in the living room.
Both police and ambulance crews noticed there was a mark on Ms Levey’s neck that appeared to resemble a lovebite.
Dr Biedrzycki said when he examined the body, he was ‘not happy that it was a natural death’.
The jury heard there was no evidence that the alcohol, or any drugs or a natural event had caused her death.
He did, however, uncover signs of asphyxia and some bruising on the left forearm, consistent with the gripping action by another person.
Dr Biedrzycki believed Ms Levey was smothered and died because of lack of oxygen.
Nevertheless, he described the level of alcohol as a ‘significant factor’ in her death.
“It’s been known that alcohol and smothering are a combination of committing covert homicide. It’s going to be easier to smother someone who’s significantly intoxicated than it is to smother someone who’s completely sober,” he told the court.
Brown, who is in his mid 40s from Selsey, denies the charge.
He has been remanded in custody at Lewes Prison since he was charged in May, 2013.
The trial continues.