A MAN accused of killing a grandmother by stabbing and then strangling her claimed to have heard voices in his head two days prior to the attack.

Christian Darko - who is accused of murdering Rose Doughty and then returning to her flat to steal £30 cash - said in interviews that he heard a “screeching” female voice uttering the word 'go'.

But a consultant forensic psychologist called upon to give evidence for the Crown in his murder trial said he did not attach any “diagnostic significance” to the claims.

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Dr Stephen Barlow told prosecutor Nick Dry that there was no record of Mr Darko reporting hearing voices until sometime after his arrest on suspicion of murdering the 72-year-old and subsequent detention in custody.

He said: “He has given varying accounts of hearing voices, none of which are particularly consistent with the sort of experience that people with mental illness such as schizophrenia have.”

The court heard how Mr Darko had twice harmed himself by cutting himself while in prison and said: “My future has ended”.

However Dr Barlow said he could find no evidence to suggest that the defendant was depressed at the time of Mrs Doughty's death.

Mr Darko's defence team has suggested he suffered from learning difficulties and attended a 'special' school as a child.

Dr Barlow, who carried out IQ tests on the defendant, said he agreed that there was evidence he was of below average intelligence.

But he added: “I don't think that considering all we know about this case and Mr Darko's history the diagnosis of learning disability or intellectual disability can be supported.”

He said the 41-year-old had lived his life independently without professional support and for most of that time had held down jobs that required training in a number of different areas.

The victim, Mrs Doughty, was a neighbour of Mr Darko's in Fosdyke Green, Netherfields, Middlesbrough.

Her body was found on November 23 last year by her granddaughter who had called to visit the pensioner.

The jury has been told that a crucial aspect of the case is establishing Mr Darko's state of mind at the material time with both sides providing contradictory evidence as to this.

Mr Darko, who is alleged to have pestered the victim for money, denies murder, but admits manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The trial continues.