A teenager has admitted murdering his girlfriend in a brutal attack described to a court as 'torture'.
College student Hannah Windsor, 17, was tied to a tree, sexually assaulted, strangled and attacked with a knife by Adam Lewis, 18, Liverpool Crown Court heard today.
Lewis, of Wirral, Merseyside, had denied murdering Miss Windsor but changed his plea to guilty shortly before his trial was due to begin.
He also admitted two counts of sexual assault against his victim.
The partially clothed body of Miss Windsor, who was living at a hostel for homeless young people at the time of her death, was found hidden under leaves, twigs and dirt in woodland on Bidston Hill, Wirral, on May 19 this year.
Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting, described Miss Windsor’s injuries as 'highly distressing'.
She was restrained and tied to a tree, sexually assaulted, stabbed repeatedly and suffered multiple other knife wounds to her chest, abdomen and back, he said.
Her mouth had been covered with surgical tape and she was strangled with a combination of his hands and a ligature, Mr Flewitt added.
There were also severe wounds in her genital area and evidence of sexual assaults.
'The nature and extent of the injuries were such that the pathologist concluded Hannah had been the victim of torture,' Mr Flewitt told the court.
'In the pathologist’s opinion, some of the wounds have a sexual component.
'Some of the injuries were caused after death but some were definitely caused during life. 'It is entirely possible that at some stage during the process, Hannah died and the defendant did not realise she had died and continued to inflict the injuries.'
Members of Miss Windsor’s family, who were sitting in the public gallery, became upset as her injuries were described to the court.
Miss Windsor and Lewis, who were both diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), had met when they were pupils at a Wirral special school.
After leaving school they had been in a relationship for seven months before splitting up and reuniting about six weeks before he killed her, the court heard.
In the days leading up to Miss Windsor’s death Lewis had been hiding from police after a burglary during which he started a fire.
He was sleeping in a tent which he pitched in a woodland clearing on Bidston Hill, a beauty spot on the outskirts of Birkenhead. Police became aware that Miss Windsor knew where Lewis was hiding and warned her not to go and see him, Mr Flewitt said.
'Tragically, it seems Hannah was determined to ignore the advice she had been given by police and was intending to visit the defendant at his campsite,' he added.
Miss Windsor was carrying a note from a detective which contained a phone number for her local police station.
The note was later found torn up at Lewis’s campsite, Mr Flewitt said.
'It may be that the presence of this torn note around the campsite indicated to the defendant that she had been speaking to police and may in part explain why he attacked and killed her,' the barrister told the court.
Two days after Miss Windsor disappeared Lewis was found by police sleeping rough at a railway station. A search of the police national computer revealed he was wanted for burglary and arson and he was arrested before being released on bail.
While on bail he told his sister he had killed Miss Windsor and his grandfather contacted police.
Lewis was re-arrested and taken to Bidston Hill where he directed police to an area near where Miss Windsor’s body was found.
Lewis’s previous convictions date from the age of 10 when he committed an offence of dishonesty. Other offences included an assault committed when he was 13, the court was told.
He earlier pleaded guilty to the burglary he committed before he killed Miss Windsor. This will be his third burglary conviction and will result in a mandatory three-year jail term, Mr Flewitt said.
The barrister acknowledged that the burglary sentence will 'pale in comparison' to the life sentence he will receive for the murder.
In mitigation, Stephen Riordan QC, defending, said Lewis confessed to the murder last Friday during a meeting with his solicitor.
He maintains he suffered a blackout and cannot recall much of what happened.
Mr Riordan said: 'The time may come, and one hopes it will, when he may face the enormity of what happened. But that time is not yet with us.'
As well as being diagnosed with ADHD, Lewis has a number of 'mental difficulties', his barrister said. 'His mental age is low and his cognitive skills are very poor,' Mr Riordan told the court.
He added that psychiatric reports reveal the defendant has an IQ in the region of 55 or 56 and a mental age of nine or 10.
He is also considered 'alcohol dependent' and 'shows evidence of harmful use of cannabis', the court heard. One of Miss Windsor’s relatives walked out of court as Mr Riordan said Lewis offered them his 'sincere condolences'.
'He is a very troubled 18-year-old,' Mr Riordan said. Mr Justice Holroyde adjourned sentencing until 10.30am tomorrow.