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Jealous Westgate man Lee Birch 'murdered ex-wife Anne Birch and tried to kill new lover' in attack in Kingsgate, court told

A jealous and obsessed husband killed his ex-wife after flouting court orders banning him from contacting her, a jury heard.

Lee Birch lay in wait for his wife Anne in a field in Kingsgate one afternoon - where he knew she would be walking dogs - before strangling her with a piece of rope and beating her repeatedly about the face and head with a branch, it was alleged.

He then went to find her new partner Michael Daniels to kill him also, but did not succeed, Maidstone Crown Court was told.

Couple Anne-Marie and Lee Birch at the opening of the Westgate micropub. Picture: Wayne McCabe

Birch, 55, of Lymington Road, Westgate, admits killing Anne but denies murder - relying on the "partial defence" of loss of control - which reduces the offence to manslaughter.

Prosecutor John O'Higgins said the fatal attack on November 7 last year was the culmination of stalking, harassment and intimidation after she ended the marriage in September last year.

He said there was a barrage of phone calls, text messages and notes either pushed through her door in Nethercourt Gardens, Ramsgate, or left on her car.

Police in Whiteness Road, Broadstairs, after Anne Birch's body was found

"Wherever she went, he would be there," said Mr O'Higgins. "He was obsessed with the suspicion she was now seeing another man.

"He said to her: 'I would rather you die than have another boyfriend.' Neither a restraining order nor a non-molestation order deterred him.

"He said no matter how many orders there were he would carry on breaking them. He said: 'I have no intention of letting go.'"

The IPCC is investigating after Anne-Marie Birch was found strangled in Kingsgate

The court heard that after the killing, Birch phoned the police, declared he had murdered Anne, 47, and said where they would find the body - on a footpath in Whiteness Road, Kingsgate.

Birch, who ran the Why Not? micropub in Lymington Road with Anne, said she left him for another man and he could not take it any more - and was going to take his own life.

When charged with murder the following day, he replied with one word: "Guilty." While in custody he repeatedly admitted his guilt.

Anne-Marie and Lee Birch outside The Why Not in Westgate. Picture: Wayne McCabe

But Mr O'Higgins cautioned the jury of seven women and five men that although Birch admitted the killing, he was not necessarily guilty of murder in the technical sense.

He added: "The prosecution case is this is murder. We invite you to reject this defence."

The trial continues.

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