Man appears in court on murder charge after woman found bludgeoned to death

A man has appeared in court charged with murder after a woman failed to turn up to her own birthday celebrations and was found dead in a bed.

Dressed in a grey tracksuit, dark-haired Zahid Naseem spoke only to confirm his name, age and address when he appeared at Brighton Magistrates' Court on Monday.

He is accused of killing Christina Abbotts, 29, who was found bludgeoned to death in Crawley on Friday night.

Naseem, who knew Ms Abbotts, was arrested at the property, police said.

Death in Crawley
Death in Crawley

Ms Abbotts had been living at the flat in the Gossops Green area of the West Sussex town, Sussex Police confirmed.

The preliminary cause of death from a post-mortem examination is blunt force trauma to the head, a spokesman said.

Neighbours told how police "flooded" into the street shortly after 10.30pm on Friday after friends, who were worried when she failed to turn up to meet them in London, raised the alarm.

Maria Slater, prosecuting, asked for the case to be sent straight to a crown court because the nature of the allegation was so serious.

The 47-year-old, of Elm Close, Amersham in Buckinghamshire, nodded as magistrates told him he would be remanded in custody to appear at Lewes Crown Court on Wednesday before being led away from the dock.