A MAN accused of strangling his lover initially claimed he was sleepwalking but later changed his defence, a court heard.

Sean Freaney said his memory returned through “dreams and nightmares”, jurors at Oxford Crown Court heard.

The 51-year-old denies murdering girlfriend Lisa Consterdine at their home in Purslane Drive, Bicester, in the early hours of March 1 last year.

Under cross-examination at Oxford Crown Court yesterday, Freaney admitted changing his defence to one of a “sex game gone wrong” earlier this year.

He said: “I wouldn’t say anything changed. I knew I was guilty of actually killing her in some form, way or manner, but I didn’t specifically recall events.

“At that time that is actually what I thought had happened; that’s all I could tell people, that I had actually killed her during my sleep. There was no other thought in my mind.

“The thought of what we were actually doing just wasn’t there. I couldn’t remember it.

“I couldn’t even recall the facts that we were having a sex game.”

Asked by prosecutor Neil Moore why he changed his defence, Freaney replied: “It was an occurrence of dreams, a few nightmares and events, then things started becoming a bit more clearer.”

The defendant said he did not know why he told a 999 operator “I’ve murdered someone” and said of the taped call, which was earlier played to jurors: “It’s just not me saying these things, I wasn’t actually saying them.”

Mr Moore read a passage from the transcript in which Freaney told the operator: “We’ve just been annoying each other for four or five days... it exploded because she doesn’t think I care.”

Giving evidence, Freaney said: “I may have said it (‘exploded’), but it didn’t mean anything in context.”

Jurors were told he answered no comment in each of his seven police interviews.

A sleep expert employed by the defence conducted tests on Freaney and filed his report on December 20, stating: “While I would not discount the possibility of a sleep-related behaviour... the only evidence that supports this view is Mr Freaney’s own accounts.”

A prosecution sleep expert had said on January 13 Freaney’s “violent behaviour” was “not consistent with sleep walking”. The court heard that on February 2, Freaney’s legal team filed a revised defence-case statement.

Mr Moore told Freaney: “I suggest you changed your defence at the last minute because you realised the sleep defence was a non-starter.”

“Not at all,” replied Freaney, who insisted his memory of events began to return in November and he told his lawyers in January.

The trial continues.