A VET accused of killing a man during a sado-masochistic sex session should have been able to use his knowledge of animals to check whether his victim was breathing, a court heard.

Veterinary surgeon Professor Paul Flecknell was giving evidence at the trial of former vet Kirk Thompson, who is accused of the manslaughter of 43-year-old David Kochs following a drug-fuelled sado-masochistic sex session.

The body of Mr Kochs was found under a duvet in Mr Thompson’s flat in Dulverton Court, Jesmond, Newcastle, on March 2 last year.

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Newcastle Crown Court previously heard how Mr Thompson thought Mr Kochs was asleep and covered him on the living room floor. However, the prosecution claims he knew he was already dead or unconscious.

Prof Flecknell said there is a range of ways to check if someone was breathing, which can be applied to both animals and humans.

“There may be some differences in the order they are told to look at the signs but they would be essentially similar,” he said.

A jury at Newcastle Crown Court has previously been told how Mr Thompson, who "enjoyed inflicting pain on others", was alleged to have burnt Mr Kochs and inflicted at least 44 injuries with a riding crop.

At one point, Mr Kochs' mouth was stapled closed using a surgical stapler and another staple was through one nostril.

Mr Kochs died of severe internal injuries caused after an electric toothbrush and metal bar were inserted into his body.

Prof Flecknell told the court the items from the flat he examined, which included forceps, scalpels, syringes and a stapler, could be used on both animals and humans in medical procedures.

However, there were some items recovered which would only be used in veterinary procedures.

Mr Thompson met Mr Kochs on the internet and they had been taking crystal meth in the hours leading up to his death.

Mr Thompson denies manslaughter, an alternative charge of wounding and a third charge of assault causing actual body harm on March 2 last year. He has admitted possessing crystal meth.

The trial continues.