A taxi driver who was having an affair with a woman stabbed to death by her estranged husband has told jurors of his shock when he saw her body.

Sally Turner suffered 68 stab wounds when she was attacked with a kitchen knife when a row erupted last summer.

Her husband Harry Turner is accused of murdering the 50-year-old in her daughter’s County Durham home in June last year.

Jurors heard how taxi driver Philip Smith was contracted to pick up Mrs Turner’s granddaughter from her County Durham home and take her to school.

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And the pair had a relationship in the months leading up the grandmother’s alleged murder, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Mark McKone KC, prosecuting, quizzed Mr Smith about the nature of their relationship when he gave evidence at the trial.

Mr Smith told jurors that he believed that the marriage was over and accepted that he sent a number of sexually explicit messages to Mrs Turner on the day that she died.

The Northern Echo: Sally TurnerSally Turner

He said he became concerned when Sally failed to come out of the house to pick up her disabled granddaughter and learned she was laid in a pool of blood.

“I knew something was a matter but I didn’t want to see,” he said. “I heard (her daughter) say, ‘she’s on the floor, there’s blood all over.

“I know I’m a coward but I didn’t want to see anything.

“I phoned 999 and coppers came from everywhere, and one jumped over the wall and went straight into the door.”

Under cross examination from defence barrister Andrew Ford KC the taxi driver admitted he was ‘ashamed’ of the sexual nature of the messages he sent to Mrs Turner and said he was an ‘idiot’ for sending them.

He said: “I text (Sally) constantly and spoke on the phone, but that was it. If you want to say that’s an affair, then that’s an affair.

“I didn’t have a long sexual affair, I slept with her once. I’ve got to live with that and what’s happened.”

The Northern Echo: Police at the scene of the alleged murderPolice at the scene of the alleged murder

A neighbour who found Mrs Turner in her home has spoken of her shock when she made the grim discovery of the woman lying face down in a pool of blood.

She said: “I noticed her legs first; I then noticed all the blood. She was lying face down and I got on my hands and knees and asked - ‘come on darling, are you alright?’ "I then moved her head and blood started pooling. I then went to get a tea towel but I couldn’t move her to get underneath and so I shouted for my mam, telling her we needed an ambulance as she was still warm. I was just holding her hand until the police got there.”

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Earlier in the trial, the jury heard how Turner would turn up for work wearing his post office uniform despite being on the sick with depression following the breakdown of his marriage.

Colleagues had raised concerns about the possibility of him committing suicide and referred him to a counselling service offered by his employer.

The 54-year-old, of Tiree Close, Brandon, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

The trial continues.