The Oldest Profession

Aberdeen man tells of moment he found body and tried to revive call girl

Published in The Press & Journal
10th January 2017

A north-east landlord has described the moment he battled in vain to save a call girl who was allegedly murdered in a city flat. Michael Murray discovered Jessica McGraa lying face down, half-naked and “still” in the Union Terrace apartment he had leased out to her last year. He said that blood had “bubbled from the nose” of the mother-of-one as he desperately performed CPR on her.

Mr Murray, who owns 16B Union Terrace, was giving evidence at the High Court in Aberdeen yesterday during the fourth day of the trial against Bala Chinda.

He is accused of raping and murdering the 37-year-old on February 11 last year. It is alleged he inflicted blunt force trauma to her head and asphyxiated her before stealing a key and two mobile phones from the sex worker. He is further accused of disposing his own handset in an attempt to defeat the ends of justice.

The 26-year-old denies all the allegations against him.

During evidence Mr Murray said he originally thought the escort was still alive when he found her on the king-sized bed on Friday, February 12. After trying to wake her up, he said he called 999 – with a call handler instructing him how to perform CPR down the phone before an ambulance arrived.

The 58-year-old said he already knew Miss McGraa, having rented a flat to her in the past – but said he had no idea she was a sex worker. He added he had tried calling her on the morning he found her, as he needed to prepare the flat for the next booking, but arrived to find the front door of the apartment unlocked.

Mr Murray said: “I opened the door and all her stuff was there, I realised she hadn’t checked out. What I saw was Jessica on the bed. She was sort of dressed, I kind of thought she may have collapsed on the bed and fallen asleep on top of the covers. I went back into my living room, my first thought was to come back in half an hour. My second thought was to check she was okay.”

He said he attempted to waken her but got “no response”.

Mr Murray added: “She didn’t really look distressed, her tongue was sort of sticking out a little bit. That is the bit I thought, that is not natural. The first thing that came into my head was a drugs overdose or something. I went into the living room and called 999.”

He told the court he then took her from the bed to the floor to give her CPR.

Mr Murray added: “Blood was bubbling up through her nose. I am not trained in CPR, I did my best. There was a scarf around her neck. It was a wrap around scarf. I sort of loosened it. It looked normal but it was fairly tight to take off.”

The court also heard from two men who paid for time with Miss McGraa in the days before her murder. They said she had asked for her money immediately and insisted they used protection.

A close friend and colleague of Jessica McGraa yesterday told jurors she urged her to call the police in the hours before her death. Josephine Freymouth said her friend had been “laughing” during several exchanges on the phone in the days leading up to her death – but that a Nigerian man had been refusing to pay her.

The 42-year-old said she had been in Omagh, Northern Ireland, at the time of Miss McGraa’s death, but had been keeping in contact with her.

Ms Freymouth said her friend had called to tell her a client was in the Aberdeen apartment, but that he didn’t have any money to pay her. She said the man later changed his mind and said he would pay Miss McGraa for a full day. She charged between £70 and £80 for 30 minutes, the court heard.

She said many escorts – including Ms Freymouth and Miss McGraa – would call their friends in the morning and before bed as a “procedure” to check up on each other.

Ms Freymouth, originally from Kenya, said: “She told me the person was in the bedroom. I said, ‘Jess, call the police. If this person doesn’t want to pay you all you have to do is call the police.’ Jess is always laughing. She said it is okay. That is why I didn’t have the feeling anything was wrong in the apartment. If somebody doesn’t have money, we don’t entertain them. At that moment he didn’t have a single cent.”

The court heard Miss McGraa had originally onlyt planned to stay from February 9 until 10, but she later requestedt to stay on until Thursday.

The trial, before Lord Beckett, continues.