SHE was excited about the future, planning a new life with her secret lover.

But just hours later Paula Poolton was stabbed to death and dumped in the boot of her car.

The final moments of the Saints steward’s double life and her affair with the man accused of her murder were outlined to jurors yesterday.

Winchester Crown Court heard that on the morning of her disappearance, 40-year-old Paula told a close friend about her hopes for the future with her lover of three months, Roger Kearney.

However, the Royal Mail worker felt pressured and was not planning on leaving his long-term partner Carol Goddard, it was said.

Kearney, 57, of Painswick Close, Sarisbury Green, denies murdering Paula, who was found stabbed to death in the boot of her car in Duncan Road, Swanwick, in October 2008.

Prosecutors say Kearney killed Paula, of Course Park Crescent, Titchfield, on the night she went missing, October 17, 2008.

They claim he took a detour before going to work that night as a driver for the Royal Mail and made up an alibi to cover his tracks.

Prosecutor Nicholas Haggan QC said: “A painstaking police investigation over a lengthy period produced a huge volume of fragments of evidence.

“These little fragments of evidence fit together, we say, just like the picture of a jigsaw. And as the pieces of that jigsaw were assembled the picture became clearer and clearer.

‘Lies’ “The defendant’s lies were not only elaborate, they were quite precise and detailed. There is, we say, no room for error or mistake.

“These lies were specifically designed to fabricate an alibi for the time of the murder. There can be no other sensible explanation.

“We say he had to fabricate an alibi because he murdered Mrs Poolton.”

He added that there was no forensic evidence in this case to link Kearney or anybody else to the murder of Paula.

He said: “There is no blood. There is no hair. There are no fingerprints. Nobody saw the defendant murder Mrs Poolton. But we, the prosecution, assert that it is quite plain that he did so.”

Earlier that day, the jury was told how Paula had met her friend, Carol Bertie, and surprised her with the news that she would be moving to a new home with Kearney, who was also a steward at St Mary’s, where they met.

She told Carol she was going to meet Kearney that night and was going to tell her builder husband, Ricky, that she was out with her.

Mr Haggan said: “Mrs Bertie was concerned because she was uncertain of this relationship. Her impression was that her friend, Mrs Poolton, was reading rather more into this affair than was merited.

“She [Paula] was keen to set up home with him and she began to bring pressure to bear to that effect.

“The defendant on the other hand was less keen to progress his relationship with Mrs Poolton. If anything, he may well have been tiring of it.”

He added that Mrs Bertie was also concerned about the meeting that evening because she knew the couple usually met during the day when their spouses were at work.

The court heard how later that day, Paula and Kearney had a 22-minute telephone conversation during which Paula asked him to view some properties with her the following week.

Mr Haggan said: “He [Kearney] said he told her he wouldn’t be able to see her at all the following week and the reason for that was because both he, and Carol Goddard, his partner, were on holiday.

“The defendant indicated to police that Mrs Poolton was considerably upset and annoyed about this.”

The prosecution says that a few hours after this conversation, Kearney left his home at 9.30pm, half an hour earlier than he told police, and headed east towards Swanwick.

Jurors were shown CCTV footage from near his home, which prosecutors suggest shows his Mitsubishi Shogun Sport driving in the opposite direction to the Royal Mail depot in Eastleigh, where he worked.

Fifteen minutes later a car similar to Paula’s, a black Peugeot 206, was seen on CCTV outside Harrington’s Fish Bar in Swanwick, which the prosecution says was the last sighting of Paula or her car.

It was not until 11 days later, on October 28, that police found Paula’s car just yards from Swanwick rail station, and discovered her body in the boot.

The prosecution says during those 11 days Kearney made “sham” attempts to contact Paula, calling her mobile only a handful of times.

Speaking to police days before Paula’s body was found, the court heard how Kearney spoke about Paula in the past tense and how he didn’t like her excessive drinking.

Mr Haggan said: “Significantly, on several occasions during that witness interview the defendant referred to Mrs Poolton in the past tense. Saying for example, ‘I did like being with Paula’.”