SAINTS steward Paula Poolton had been dead for at least a few days when she was found dumped in the boot of her car, a court heard.

Home Office pathologist Dr Deborah Cook told Winchester Crown Court this morning that the condition of the body showed that the 40-year-old had been killed some days before she was found in Duncan Road.

Jurors heard that Paula had been stabbed eight times in the chest and the wounds were consistent with the use of a knife.

She said: "By the time I examined the body she must have been dead a few days, I cannot say precisely how many days."

Dr Cook went on to explain that one of the stab wounds, which was 15cm deep and cut through the pulmonary artery would have been fatal and that three others could have been fatal.

She said: "Damage to an artery that large, even if Mrs Poolton had been taken immediately to hospital she would have died from that wound."

The court also heard how it was likely Paula had tried to defend herself against her attacker due to a scratch on her left forearm.

Dr Cook said: "When an individual is confronted with an attacker with a knife it is a natural reaction to try and protect oneself by using one's arm."

Physical evidence also suggested that Paula's body had been in the position she was found for some time.

Under cross examination Dr Cook was asked if it was possible that the body could have been moved but Dr Cook said it was unlikely due to the blood staining on her clothing but not impossible.

Roger Kearney, 57, of Painswick Close, Sarisbury Green, denies the murder of Paula, who he was having an affair with for three-months, who was found stabbed to death in the boot of her car in October 2008. Proceeding.