A court in Lewes sentenced a City banker, Zahid Naseem, to prison for 19 years with charges of bashing a woman to death with a pestle, in Crawley, on her birthday. The incident took place in May, when Naseem bludgeoned Christina Abbotts, a sex worker, on the back of the head 13 times with a ceramic kitchen utensil.

On being indicted, the 48-year-old financial consultant claimed that he hit her in self-defence, as he was terrified of being strangled to death in a sex game gone wrong. However, after four hours of deliberations, a jury at the Lewes crown court found him guilty of murder.

Abbotts was described as a “socialite” living in London. She was hiding her profession from her family that believed she worked in IT. However, their daughter advertised her services on the website, where Naseem found her offering overnight rates of £1,000, under the pseudonym Tilly Pexton.

According to a CCTV footage, both of them were last seen in public on May 24, when Naseem met her in Crawley, West Sussex to spend the night together.

Abbotts’ friends grew anxious when she failed to turn up the next day to her birthday party in South Kensington, and started searching her. It was after two days when she was located by the police.

In the early hours of May 26, her body was found in an apartment at Crawley. The police broke down the door of the flat, and also found Naseem pretending to be unconscious in the next room.

On interrogation, Naseem first claimed that he could not remember the incident. However, on giving evidence in court, he admitted about striking Abbotts, though in self-defence.

He also stated that it may have been out of a “red mist.” However, his testimony was completely dismissed by the prosecutor, Christopher Tehrani, who called it a “pack of lies.”

The judge, Christine Laing stated that the attack on Abbotts was of “extraordinary ferocity.”

She said, “When I consider the extent of all the injuries, you inflicted considerable pain,” adding that “the terror of her final few moments of life is unimaginable.”

Laing also said that Abbotts, as an escort, “had chosen to earn her money in a business that is as old as time. And one that has always carried with it huge risks of danger, as this case sadly demonstrated.”