Murder accused ‘may have suffered brain damage’

Paige Chivers' family album - Faces in Places pic
Paige Chivers' family album - Faces in Places pic
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A man accused of the murder of a Blackpool teenager may have suffered brain damage in an incident more than 30 years ago, a court has been told.

Paige Chivers went missing aged 15 in the summer of 2007.

Robert Ewing, 60, of All Hallows Road, Bispham, stands accused of her murder and doing an act tended and intended to pervert the course of justice.

The prosecution in a trial at Preston Crown Court claims Paige was killed at Ewing’s flat on All Hallows’ Road.

He denies both of the charges.

In evidence yesterday, the jury heard from a consultant psychiatrist, Dr Craig Smith, who has worked for the NHS in Blackpool for 16 years.

He said Ewing could be brain damaged.

He said Ewing “may well have residual brain damage” caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from a suicide attempt in 1984.

The court heard how this could cause him short term memory loss.

The psychiatrist’s evidence was called for following an earlier revelation that Ewing kept papers on Paige’s case.

Dr Smith said Ewing told him he kept lists as a coping strategy for suffering some memory loss.

During a search of Ewing’s flat police found a hoard of cuttings about Paige’s case and about the death of Paige’s father in 2014.

He said he kept these out of curiosity.

Later in evidence the jury was read a statement from Paige’s brother Jack Chivers by prosecution barrister Brian Cummings, during which he discussed a sighting of Paige in September 2007 when he found her packing clothing into a suitcase.

But he said in the statement he had not reported this to anyone at the time because he assumed she would come back home days later.

The statement said: “In the first week of September I was sent home from school, it was around dinner time.

“When I got home I noticed the kitchen window was open. I heard a noise and went to see what it was.

“I found Paige upstairs, she was packing her clothes into a suitcase.

“[She swore at me.] I could see she was in a bad mood.

“I didn’t bother reporting it because I thought she would return in a few days as she usually did.”

Ewing denies charges of murder and doing an act intended to pervert the course of justice.

Co-defendant Gareth Dewhurst, 46, of Duncan Avenue, Bispham, denies assisting an offender, a serious sex offence and doing an act tended and intended to pervert the course of justice.