Published: 13:04, 02 February 2012
by Keith Hunt
A twisted killer who strangled a former prostitute with a belt during a sex session faces being locked up indefinitely after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.
Marcus Coates, of Ernest Road, Chatham, was cleared of murdering Jennie Banner by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court this afternoon.
Her body was left under a duvet for five days.
Adjourning sentence on 44-year-old Coates until March 2, Judge Philip Statman said he wanted a report on dangerousness.
He told Coates' lawyer: "I take the view at the moment your client is a dangerous man and I am considering imprisonment for public protection or the possibility of a discretionary life sentence."
Three women on the jury wept on hearing after the verdicts that Coates had previously been convicted of a terrifying sex attack on a woman in front of her young child.
The violent pervert left his victim with blood pouring from her face after cutting her with a knife and a razor.
He was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court in April 1999 to five years' jail with an extended licence period of five years.
Jennie Banner's body was found in a flat in this block in Chatham High Street
Coates denied both the murder and manslaughter of Jennie Banner, but did not give evidence.
He put the belt around Miss Banner's neck and tightened it until she passed out and died.
Her body, wearing only a T-shirt pulled up over her breasts, was left under a duvet in the bedroom of her Chatham flat with the belt still fastened around her neck.
Coates did not report the matter until five days after her death.
Christopher May, prosecuting, told Maidstone Crown Court it was a case of murder and not an accident, as Coates claimed.
Miss Banner, who was 32, had worked as a prostitute, but was not said to be interested in bondage or "auto-erotic asphyxiation".
More than 100 mourners attended Jennie Banner's funeral
Coates went to her home in a block of flats at Five Ways Court on August 14 last year.
He said they took drugs together in the living room and she asked him to put the belt around her neck and she pulled it tight during sexual activity.
Coates said he was unable to release the belt, which had an extra hole made in it to reduce the circumference to 26.4cm (10.4in).
The court heard Coates had on his mobile phone a photo of his ex-wife Marina Raghunath wearing a dog collar around her neck.
She said in evidence that Coates was the dominant partner when he would put the collar around her neck eight or nine times during their marriage from 1995 to 1998 and pull it tight until she started to pass out.
Moving impact statements by the victim's parents Daphne "Viv" Horne and David Banner were read out in court.
After the verdict, Jennie’s mother Vivian Horne said: "Jennie was in the process of turning her life around. She was very creative and had decided that she wanted to go to college to study hairdressing and carve out a career for herself.
"we haven't even begun to deal with the fact that she is no longer here…” – victim jennie banner's mother
"She was a generous and loving girl who was very popular with a large circle of friends. Some of these had been her friends since she was at school as she was born and had always lived in the Medway Towns.
"She loved her flat and was very proud of it. She just wanted to live a normal life. As a family we haven’t even begun to deal with the fact that she is no longer here."
Speaking about the impact Jennie’s death has had on the family, her older sister Sandra, 35, and younger sister Jaimie, 30, said in a statement together: "She’s a missing link now between us – she was the middle sister and we miss her so much.
"She never grew up and was so full of fun. She had a bright future – we saw that and so did she."
Det Ch Insp Jon Clayden said: "Jennie Banner had everything to live for and it is a tragedy that her young life was cut short in such a way. I hope that today’s verdict will go some way to satisfying her family that justice has been done.
"It is clear from the judge’s sentiments after the verdict that he intends to imprison Coates, who he said was a danger to the public, for a substantial amount of time."