Morecambe hairdresser accused of murder says boyfriend was “controlling”

Preston Crown Court.  PIC BY ROB LOCK
Preston Crown Court. PIC BY ROB LOCK

A hairdresser accused of murdering her boyfriend has told a court he was a different person when he had been drinking.

Terri-Marie Palmer, 22, said Damon Searson was controlling and would treat her badly when he was under the influence of drink.

Palmer met Mr Searson when he went to the salon where she worked to get his hair cut while he was in rehab for drink and drugs problems.

The pair struck up a relationship and when Mr Searson left rehab he moved in with Palmer at her mother’s house in Morecambe.

Giving evidence at Preston Crown Court, Palmer, of Warton Avenue, Heysham, said Mr Searson was controlling and would check up on her.

She said: “Even if we went for a drink every now and again, with him being an alcoholic, he couldn’t handle it He wasn’t a nice person.

“We would be drinking with friends and he would just become aggressive towards them and start wanting to fight with them.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to leave him anywhere but I was willing to put up with that. I just wanted to make things work.

“He started to become a bit possessive over me. Wherever I was going, if it was just to the shop he had to be with me. I wasn’t expecting to be with him 24/7.”

Palmer asked Mr Searson to leave her mum’s house as she needed space but when he returned to Liverpool to stay with an aunt - who also has drink problems, their troubles escalated.

She told the court: “It was really hard. We wouldn’t speak for ages then when we did talk he would be shouting and trashing rooms and then he would throw the phone.

“But when he used to come back to me and he wasn’t drinking he was perfectly fine. He was a completely different person.

The court heard a number of romantic text messages exchanged between the pair - and a number of angry and aggressive messages.

Palmer told the court she hoped she could change her partner and stop him drinking. She said: “When I used to complain about him drinking he would tell me I’ve nowhere else to go. I told him I’d try to sort something out in my area.

“I tried to work harder to make more money. I used to send him money all the time to come and see me.”

On August 1 2015 the couple moved into the caravan in Stud Farm Park, Oxcliffe Road, Heysham.

Palmer said: “It was amazing. It was like everything, all the past, was just gone and we were just trying to make it work.

“I felt like he needed me.”

But two weeks after the couple moved into the caravan, emergency services were called to find Mr Searson with a deep stab wound to his chest.

He was taken to Lancaster Royal Infirmary but was pronounced dead. Palmer told officers he had sustained the injury while they were play fighting with a carving knife they had bought that day.

Blood tests revealed Mr Searson had more than twice the legal drink drive limit of alcohol in his blood the night he died. Palmer had no trace of drink or drugs.

She denies murder at Preston Crown Court.