A MAN accused of murder told a prisoner officer his girlfriend had been the one responsible for a brutal killing while he watched on, a court heard.

Firefighters were called to a blaze in Station Road, Clacton, on Boxing Day last year but found the lifeless body of Paul Gillett in the bath.

Seth Stollery, 48, and Freya Parker-Magowan, 44, are charged with his murder.

The homeless pair had been in a relationship but Parker-Magowan had stayed at Mr Gillet’s house on Christmas Day despite a series of texts and calls from Stollery over the festive period.

Stollery has been on remand at HMP Chelmsford since he was arrested.

Giving evidence, supervising officer Mark Evans told Chelmsford Crown Court Stollery initially said he could not remember what had happened but later said it was his partner who killed Mr Gillett.

He said: “At some time in May he approached me and said he was feeling very stressed and had decided to tell the truth as to what really happened.

“He told me his partner was the person who committed the murder and he had a meeting with his solicitor the next day where he was going to tell them.

“He said he had stayed quiet to protect his girlfriend.”

Mr Evans said he thought Stollery’s partner was a woman called Freya Parker and inter-prison phone calls had been arranged between them.

The prison officer told the court Stollery had been made the subject of an Assessment Care in Custody Teamwork referral which is designed for prisoners believed to be at risk of harming themselves.

Part of the order meant there were hourly observations done to ensure he stayed safe.

Mr Evans said Stollery had initially said he was in prison for a crime he could not remember committing because of drugs and alcohol before he shifted the blame onto Parker-Magowan.

Both deny murder and arson with intent to endanger life and Parker-Magowan denies arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Stollery has admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

n The trial continues.