A man is accused of murdering a much-loved mum the day after taking pictures up another woman’s skirt, a court has been told.
Harrison Lawrence-van Pooss, from Margate, appeared before a district judge today charged in connection with the death of Claire Knights.
The 20-year-old is alleged to have murdered the talented artist in the Minnis Bay area of Birchington on Wednesday, August 23.
Ms Knights, 54, had been reported missing the same day after disappearing while on a dog walk.
Her springer spaniel was later found running loose on the beach, and her car was discovered abandoned in Shuart Lane, St Nicholas-at-Wade.
On Thursday, August 24, and while the widespread search for Ms Knights continued, Lawrence-van Pooss was arrested on suspicion of her murder.
The following evening her body was tragically found in a ditch by a family member, with the cause of her death later revealed to have been blunt-force trauma and drowning.
An inquest earlier this month heard she had died a “violent or unnatural death”.
Lawrence-van Pooss was charged with her murder today, having been detained in custody for an assessment by medical professionals for more than three weeks.
He also faces a charge of voyeurism following an investigation into a separate incident in which ‘upskirt’ images of a woman were covertly taken in Birchington on Tuesday, August 22.
Lawrence-van Pooss appeared in court via video link for the short hearing.
He gave his address as the Trevor Gibbons Unit in Maidstone – a secure mental health facility where he continues to be held on remand.
The case was sent to Maidstone Crown Court, where Lawrence-van Pooss is expected to appear on Wednesday.
A well-known figure in the Kent art community, Ms Knights, has been described as a “bright and intelligent thinker” by friends and her contemporaries.
Uwe Derksen, the director of The Margate School, where Ms Knights studied, paid tribute to his former student, saying: “She was an outstanding, exceptional artist and student, and anyone who had the privilege to see her work would no doubt agree.”
Ms Knights’ family also paid tribute to her after her death, describing her as “a trailblazer in life.”
“Claire was a loving mum, partner, daughter and sister,” they added.
“An amazing contemporary artist, a trailblazer in life. She loved animals and in particular, her springer spaniel, Zebulon.
“We, the family, are struggling to come to terms with the fact she is no longer with us.
“We wish to thank friends and the community for their active support and kind words.”
Area coroner Catherine Wood opened an inquest into Ms Knights’ death earlier this month and immediately suspended it, pending the outcome of criminal investigations.