A KILLER dumped his gay lover’s body on Huddersfield moorland then calmly went on a spending spree with his stolen credit cards, a court heard.
Desmond Lee, 39, inflicted fatal neck injuries on 51-year-old Christopher Pratt at his flat in Sackville Street, Ravensthorpe, in August last year, Leeds Crown Court was told.
While the body was still at his flat, he used Mr Pratt’s bank cards for a £200 Asda shop and attempted to buy more than £1,000-worth of goods from Argos.
He then wrapped the body in a bin liner, bundled it into Mr Pratt’s car, drove to Scammonden and dumped it off New Hey Road.
Shortly afterwards he went cruising the streets for sex.
Lee initially denied knowing anything about the father-of-two’s death.
He then admitted causing the injuries which killed Mr Pratt, who lived in Grantham, Lincolnshire.
But he claimed it had happened accidentally while they had sex. He said he then panicked and disposed of the body.
A pathologist dismissed his version of events as "implausible".
Lee denies murder.
Opening the case against him yesterday, prosecutor David Hatton QC told the jury of seven men and five women Lee and Mr Pratt had met at a gay sauna in Dewsbury a few months before Mr Pratt’s death.
Mr Pratt, a Jobcentre Plus worker, was in a long-term relationship with a man in Lincolnshire, but visited Lee at his flat where he lived alone, on Saturday, August 15.
"Christopher Pratt did not leave that flat again alive," Mr Hatton said.
The barrister said the victim, who had HIV, had intended to return home the following day but was killed by Lee before he could leave.
A post-mortem revealed he had suffered a fractured larynx, commonly known as the voice box, and a fractured hyoid, a bone in the neck. The injuries would have been caused by sustained pressure or a blow to the neck.
The court heard the same day he killed his lover – and while the body was still at his flat – Lee used Mr Pratt’s debit card to pay off a £100 phone bill.
He then helped his neighbours move house and bought them several bottles of alcohol so they could have a party.
The following day he spent £212 ordering goods from Asda and then tried unsuccessfully to buy £1,181 of items, including a bed, mattress and bedding, dining furniture, a fridge and a computer with a webcam from Argos.
Mr Hatton said: "Far from panicking about or grieving over Mr Pratt’s death, the defendant was simply taking advantage of it."
The prosecution said in the early hours of Tuesday morning, August 18, Lee put the body in Mr Pratt’s Peugeot car.
He dumped it along with a blood-stained duvet cover and futon mattress about a mile away from the Nont Sarahs Hotel at Scammonden.
After returning home, he changed into a smarter set of clothes and went out again.
Mr Hatton said: "He went out cruising, we would say, for sex. Not mourning, not grieving."
Lee then dumped some of Mr Pratt’s belongings in a neighbour’s bin and two days later again tried to order goods from Argos.
A missing person inquiry was launched and Lee was arrested on suspicion of kidnap on August 24. He denied any knowledge of Mr Pratt’s whereabouts.
Mr Pratt’s body was not discovered until August 26 when jogger David Sykes spotted it as he ran past.
Lee was again arrested, this time on suspicion of murder, but continued to deny any involvement in his lover’s death.
But shortly before his trial started, Lee then admitted causing Mr Pratt’s death.
In a statement he said they were having sex on August 16, when he reached over Mr Pratt to get some drugs, including cocaine and animal nitrate.
Lee claimed that as he did so he had his other arm underneath Mr Pratt’s chin. The weight of his body on Mr Pratt’s back forced his arm against the victim’s neck.
Referring to the statement, Mr Hatton said it was only after Lee released the weight of his body that he knew anything was wrong.
"At his point he noticed Christopher Pratt was unresponsive and a short time later realised Christopher Pratt was dead," Mr Hatton added.
"It is the defence case that this happened by accident."
Lee said he dumped the body because he was scared he wouldn’t be believed.
But forensic pathologist Charles Wilson, who conducted the post-mortem, dismissed Lee’s version of events.
He said: "I find that description totally implausible.
"Accidental strangulation isn’t something I have ever encountered in nearly 15 years of pathological practice."
Under cross-examination Dr Wilson admitted it was a "remote possibility."
The trial continues.