A 25-year-old man was terrified, shaking and crying after strangling his former lover during a row at one of their “secret” meetings in a caravan, a murder trial jury heard yesterday.

James Gray’s mother wept at Bradford Crown Court as she told of the moment her son revealed: “I think I’ve killed Jade”.

Deborah Bairstow said her son and Jade Watson, 22, had lived together in Plumpton Gardens, Wrose, but separated in May last year.

Gray moved to his mother’s home at Wood Lane, Swain House, Bradford, sleeping in a caravan at the back of the property because of a shortage of room.

Miss Bairstow said the couple continued to meet in secret because they still loved one another.

On the afternoon of November 5, Gray came into the house from the caravan in a distressed state.

“He was scared, shaking, sweating, terrified. He said something on the lines of ‘I think I’ve killed Jade’,” Miss Bairstow said.

She went to the caravan, followed closely by her son, and saw Miss Watson lying on the floor.

“I shouted her name. I shook her by the arms. There was no response,” she said.

Miss Watson had an injury to the left of her forehead.

Miss Bairstow felt for a pulse and heartbeat but there was none.

Her son was crying and she could not recall if he said anything.

Miss Bairstow rang for an ambulance and followed phone instructions on how to assist Jade until paramedics arrived.

Cross-examined by Gray’s barrister, Stephen Meadowcroft QC, Miss Bairstow said her son and Miss Watson were happy and very much in love when they were living together.

Jayne Gray, Miss Bairstow’s partner, said the defendant was white and looked in shock.

She said he told her: “I’ve killed Jade. I’ve strangled her. Don’t go out there, she’s a mess.”

Miss Gray said she went to the caravan and could tell straight away that Miss Watson was dead.

There was no pulse and her arm was cold.

Gray, a sales assistant at a builder’s merchant, denies murdering Miss Watson but admits her manslaughter.

He says he did not intend to kill her but lost his self control and attacked her during an argument.

Miss Watson, a mother-of-two who worked at the In Plaice fish shop in Sunbridge Road, Bradford, had begun a relationship with a man called Chris Gill by the time she was killed, the court heard.

Mr Gill, who began giving evidence to the court yesterday afternoon, said he met Miss Watson on the internet and was seeing her regularly. She told him her relationship with Gray had finished.

The jury has heard that Gray strangled Miss Watson with his hands.

The pathologist who carried out the post-mortem examination reported: “The force used to manually strangle an individual to death would be considerable and the pressure would also have to be sustained while the victim struggled.”

The trial continues.