BREAKING NEWS: Phillip Brown guilty of Debbie Levey murder

Debbie Levey
Debbie Levey

A SELSEY driver will be jailed after murdering the woman he previously claimed he would ‘destroy’.

Phillip Brown, in his mid 40s, from Selsey, was found guilty today (January 30) after a three-week trial at Lewes Crown Court.

Developing an ‘obsession’ with Ms Levey, Brown pursued her relentlessly after she ended her relationship with him, at one point sending her pictures of himself self-harming.

Ms Levey was found smothered at her East Ashling home, named Cherry Tree Cottage, before 8am on Monday, January 28, 2013.

Brown was arrested the same day and bailed, later being charged with murder on May 28, 2013.

The court heard he went to Cherry Tree Cottage at Ms Levey’s invitation and his empty car was seen outside her home.

No one apart from Brown knows exactly what happened inside the cottage, but scene of crime officers found a DNA stain matching Brown’s profile on the bedsheet, his fingerprints on a glass in the kitchen, a cigarette butt with his DNA on in the living room and saliva and DNA from Brown on a love bite on Ms Levey’s neck.

A postmortem uncovered ‘tell-tale signs’ of asphyxia and that Ms Levey had a large amount of alcohol in her system when she died.

Forensic pathologist Olaf Biedrzycki said when he examined the body, he was ‘not happy that it was a natural death’.

“It’s been known that alcohol and smothering are a combination of committing covert homicide,” he said.

Lewes crown court

Lewes crown court

“It’s going to be easier to smother someone who’s significantly intoxicated than it is to smother someone who’s completely sober.”

Ms Levey was found sitting on the settee in her living room, covered by a blanket. Nearby was a cushion which had her saliva and DNA in the middle of it.

The prosecution believe this is what Brown used to kill her.

Three factors made police investigating the death suspicious.

Ms Levey’s mobile phone was at the bottom of the fish tank. She had marks on her neck which were described as ‘love bites’. Thirdly, the blanket looked as though it had been placed on her.

‘Charms and emotional responses’

A ‘two-faced’ character, Brown admitted not recognising the ‘cruel and vengeful’ sides of his personality, which often saw him turn from ‘Mr Nice to Mr Nasty’.

This Jekyll and Hyde side to his nature was revealed early in the trial, when the jury heard of numerous texts he sent Ms Levey.

“No matter what you think of me I will always love you with all my heart,” he texted her on Boxing Day, 2012, yet the next day he sent an email to her care home employers falsely alleging she had caused the death of a resident.

“On the surface he obviously had charms and emotional responses that obviously attracted the deceased,” said Mark Dennis QC for the prosecution.

However, he added there was ‘plainly an undercurrent’ which revealed a quite different character when it surfaced,

“This other side seems to come to the fore when he doesn’t get his way or have what he wants,” he said, describing this side as ‘cruel and vengeful’.

Brown admitted in court he did not recognise this side of himself, describing such messages as ‘despicable’.

Cheated out of £10

Before her hysterectomy in November, 2012, Ms Levey gave Brown a piece of jewellery to pawn for her.

He received £131, but only gave her £121.

Ms Levey broke up with him after this, saying she could not trust him.

However, he continually tried to contact her, leading Ms Levey to temporarily delete her Facebook account as she felt she was being ‘stalked’.

Nevertheless, Ms Levey continued to have some contact with Brown, with the prosecution describing her as ‘vulnerable’ and someone who was always looking for someone to love her.

The day she died, phone records showed Ms Levey called Brown at his Selsey home around 2.45pm and it appears from Brown’s testimony, backed up another witness who spoke to Ms Levey earlier, that Ms Levey invited her murderer to her home.

His car was seen outside at 7.45pm, with no one inside, despite Brown claiming he never saw Ms Levey and the house was empty when he got there.

‘Highly-charged’ relationship

The pair met at the Leaholme care home, in Gilmore Road, Chichester, in January, 2012. Brown was a driver and Ms Levey was a care manager.

They formed a bond and quickly became involved in a relationship.

Witnesses said they bonded over the fact that they had both been adopted.

The love affair was described as ‘somewhat passionate and highly charged’, but also ‘often troublesome’.

Both sides had frequently fallen out and there were several arguments.

At one point Brown texted Ms Levey’s 16-year-old daughter that her mother was a ‘slut’ and he wanted nothing to do with her.

Brown will now be remanded in custody until he is sentenced.