A WOMAN saved the life of the man who was later to stab her to death, a court was told.

Charlotte Flanagan, aged 22, persuaded Gareth Horton not to commit suicide when he lay down on a rail track in front of an on-coming train.

Six months after the incident, in Darwen last June, Horton stabbed Charlotte to death in her fourth-floor flat above the London pub where she worked, the Old Bailey was told.

Horton, 29, of Walmsley Street, Darwen, has denied murdering Charlotte after a New Year's Eve Vicars and Tarts party. The jury at the Old Bailey has been told the major issue in the case was whether he was acting with diminished responsibility.

Charlotte and Horton became friends while working for Blackburn with Darwen Council's social services department and he moved into her house in Walmsley Street to help her pay the mortgage.

The court was told Horton jumped on to railway tracks in Darwen as he walked back to the house after a night in a local pub.

He refused to let Charlotte go and she tried to pull him off the track but his 6ft 8in frame proved too much for her. But she managed to persuade him to move away from the line as a train approached, the jury was told.

Charlotte, a former worker with young children for the Trinity Partnership in Clitheroe, went to work at the Barley Mow pub in Central London for a year before beginning a nursing course.

Horton -- described to the court as being 'emotionally and sexually obsessed' with Charlotte -- followed her to London but became envious when he heard her talking about a new boyfriend.

She suffered a stab wound to the neck and died almost immediately due to heavy blood loss, Home Office pathologist Dr Robert Chapman told the court.

Dr Chapman said it was possible that Charlotte may have been asleep when the 25cm kitchen knife was aimed at her neck.