A taxi driver who was having an affair with a woman stabbed to death by her estranged husband branded himself a ‘coward’ when he refused to look at her body.

Philip Smith told a jury how he became concerned when he tried drop Sally Turner’s granddaughter off at her home and she was not there to greet her.

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

And theye were told that the pair had a relationship in the months leading up the grandmother’s alleged murder on June 22, 2022.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Harry Turner had stabbed the 50-year-old almost 70 times in her daughter’s home.

Jurors heard how Mrs Turner’s daughter managed to force her way into the house to discover her mother in a pool of blood.

The Northern Echo: Sally TurnerSally Turner

Giving evidence during the murder trial, the taxi driver admitted that they had shared a number of sexually explicit messages with Mrs Turner including one on the day she died when she was meeting up with her estranged husband.

When asked whether the last message he sent to Mrs Turner was of a sexual nature, he said: “Yes it was. It’s the one thing that I regret. Of all the things I should have said, I should have told her to not go and meet him.”

Craig Hassall KC, prosecuting, asked Mr Smith what happened after he was unable to drop off the young girl.

He replied: “The neighbour said she heard two screams half an hour earlier and then there was deadly silence.

“I couldn’t get the front door open but when the door got opened Sally was lying behind the door.

“I didn’t go anywhere near (Sally). I phoned 999 saying I needed the police and an ambulance.

“I was a coward. I looked away and called the police.”

The Northern Echo: Police at the scene of the incident on Cuthbert Avenue, DurhamPolice at the scene of the incident on Cuthbert Avenue, Durham (Image: Newsquest)

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Forensic scientist Dr Gemma Escott said that there was blood spatter inside the house showing that the attack had started in the front room before Sally tried to get to the front door.

Jurors had heard how Mrs Turner suffered 78 wounds, including defence injuries, from at least 68 knife blows with the deepest being 11cm deep and one was so powerful that it broke her shoulder blade while another broke one of her ribs.

The 55-year-old, of Tiree Close, Brandon, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.

The trial continues.