A riding instructor who was stabbed to death in the stables of a farm “wouldn’t hurt a fly,” a court was told.
Fiona Southwell, who weighed just seven stone four lbs, suffered 26 injuries, including stab wounds that penetrated her brain, neck and lung, a pathologist told a jury at Hull Crown Court.
Daniel Edwards, 22, is accused of murdering the 59-year-old, who was found dead at Grange Farm near Hornsea, East Yorkshire, last July.
Miss Southwell, who took commissions for horse and pet portraits, as well as judging at gymkhanas and hunter trials, was planning a move down south with friends who were buying a property with equestrian facilities and - unbeknown to her - an artists studio of her own.
Her sister Sharon Underhill said in a statement read to the court that her life had revolved round horses, which she looked after meticulously. She said: “I can’t understand why anyone would want to harm my wonderful sister. She wouldn’t hurt a fly and never had a cross word with anyone. She was such a genuine and kind person.”
Pathologist Dr Charles Wilson gave details of the 26 injuries Miss Southwell suffered, including a 15cm stab wound which had gone right through her neck, causing a cut in a major artery, which would have caused a severe haemorrhage as well as blockage of her airways.
She was also stabbed though an armpit into a lung, in its own right, a potentially life-threatening injury, said Dr Wilson. One injury, to her hand, was “a natural defensive reaction against an attack with a bladed weapon,” he added.
The court has already heard that Edwards, of King Street, Hornsea, may have held a grudge against Miss Southwell, who replaced him as a stablehand, after he was sacked from looking after the horses at Grange Farm in May. The horses’ owner Pamela Newton said in a statement she suspected Edwards had “learning difficulties because you have to keep on at him.” The trial continues.