A grandmother found in a moorland grave may have died as a result of a kick or stamp to the head, a court has heard.
A pathologist said that 55-year-old Pamela Jackson was dead within 35 minutes of sustaining a blunt force injury to her head.
Prosecutors say Adrian Muir murdered Pamela at her home in County Durham then buried her body on the moors in West Yorkshire.
Home office pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton said the most likely cause of death was a kick or stamp to the head, though she could not exclude the possibility it was caused by a fall or a weapon.
Dr Bolton said: “Pamela Jackson died as a result of a blunt force head injury which caused a fracture to the right side of the skull, bruising and bleeding on the brain.
“Death has occurred relatively quickly after the injury was caused, she survived less than 35 minutes.”
The patholigist said other injuries to Pamela’s face and head were probably caused by punches or heavy slaps but the fatal wound to the right side of her head had been caused in a different way.
Dr Bolton said: “It raises the possibility this injury has been casued by a kick or a stamp to the head. I can’t exclude the fact a weapon has been used to cause this injury but the features of the injury are not characteristic of that.
“It’s also possible a heavy fall or a fall against something hard could have caused the injury but it’s not typical of that as you would expect the skin to split and tear.
“The other option is multiple heavy punches in or around the same area to cause the large area of damage.”
Asked which explanation she favoured, Dr Bolton said: “I would favour a kick or a stamp because of the size of the bruising and the fact there’s a fracture and the skin is not split.”
The pathologist said it was not possible to establish an exact time of death but said her injuries were in keeping with it having been on the last day she was seen alive, March 2.
As well as the fatal injury, 5ft Pamela also had a black eye and bruising to her right ear, the bridge of her nose, bottom lip, shoulder and hand. Two bottom teeth were also loose and she had small fractures to her jaw.
Prosecutors claim Muir murdered Pamela at her home in Chester-le-Street and buried her on moorland 120 miles away.
It is claimed he then left apparent suicide note voicemails on his own phone allegedly confessing to killing Pamela.
But Muir is then accused of trying to cover his tracks, even telling Pamela’s worried son she had gone away because botox injections had gone wrong.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutor Andrew Robertson said that Pamela’s blood had been found at her home, including on Muir’s slippers, and in his car.
And he said there is also evidence gloves and debris found in Muir’s car can be linked to the grave site. A spade was also found in his boot.
Pamela, who met Muir through a dating website, went missing from her home in County Durham on March 2 and her body was found on moorland above Halifax on May 27.
A carrier bag containing flowers was found on her body. Muir’s fingerprints were on the bag, the court has been told.
Muir, 50, of Calder Terrace in Halifax, denies murder. The trial continues.