A MAN accused of murdering his estranged partner was today described as a violent, controlling thief who appeared to be happy just minutes after stabbing her to death.

Graham Gibson knifed Christine Henderson 12 times – 11 times in the head, neck and chest – during a late-night confrontation in Middlesbrough after she left him to move in with a friend.

As the 50-year-old mother-of- three lay bleeding to death, gambling addict Gibson rifled through her handbag looking for more money to steal, Teesside Crown Court heard.

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He was later seen by two men in the street, one of whom described the 47-yearold as “buzzin” as he smiled at them when they passed, prosecutor Jamie Hill told the jury.

Before contacting the emergency services to say he had stabbed his girlfriend to death, Gibson went to a friend’s home nearby where he changed his blood-stained clothes.

Gibson told the 999 operator where Mrs Henderson could be found – at a house in Cherwell Terrace, on the Brambles Farm estate – but rang off without giving his full name.

Mr Hill said the killer dumped his phone down a drain and was arrested 13 hours later near the town’s main police station, when he claimed he was about to hand himself in.

In an interview with detectives, Gibson blamed Mrs Henderson for the row, said she was a “horrible person” and wanted her to stop when she mentioned other former girlfriends.

Mr Hill said: “He said he picked up the kitchen knife, took steps towards her and stabbed her. He said he simply wanted her to shut up. He described his actions as 20 seconds of madness.

“The interview paints a misleading picture of their relationship... we suggest his account of losing self-control is weak.

“We say he simply killed Christine Henderson in anger.”

Gibson was said to have been unable to deal with the split or understand the reasons for it, and bombarded her with phone calls and messages for a week before tracking her down.

Mr Hill said Mrs Henderson had become fed-up with his “controlling, threatening, dishonest and violent behaviour” but Gibson refused to accept the relationship was over.

Gibson, of Kent Avenue, Hartlepool, denies murder, and has put forward a defence of loss of control for the “brutal and sustained” attack around midnight on July 1 this year.

The case continues.