Tia Kounota and Damien Dinobewei
A boyfriend has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his student girlfriend – whose body was found in a burning pink Audi in Birmingham.
Unemployed Damien Dinobewei, 34, had denied the murder of mum-of-one Tia Kounota, 27, and had been due to stand trial.
But he admitted the manslaughter of the social work university student before the trial could begin, a plea accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Dinobewei, of Pershore Road, Stirchley, will now be sentenced later this month at Birmingham Crown Court after further psychiatric reports.
Tragic Tia was found in a burning pink Audi on Fentham Road, Erdington, on July 22 last year.
Following her death Dinobewei was arrested and remanded into the care of The Spinney, a psychiatric hospital.
Unemployed Dinobewei attacked the mother-of-one, dragged her into a car and drove to a cul-de-sac in Erdington where he set fire to the vehicle with Tia inside.
A post mortem proved inconclusive but showed she’d suffered a head injury which would have knocked her unconscious or left her dead before the fire was started.
Dinobewei was arrested a short time later and charged with murdering 27-year-old Tia and remanded in a secure unit.
Tia Kounota, 27, was found dead in her bright pink Audi A3 convertible in Fentham Road, Erdington
The court heard that Tia and 35-year-old Dinobewei had been in a volatile relationship, which Tia had decided to end, due to Dinobewei becoming unpredictable and frightening her. Tia had moved back to her mother’s house before moving to live with a friend near Halesowen at the time of her death.
On the day of the incident, Dinobewei was seen dragging Tia by the hair and punching her repeatedly before forcing her into the passenger seat and driving away. He then drove to The Gardens, off Fentham Road, where witnesses saw Dinobewei get out of the driver’s side of the car and set the vehicle alight.
On one of the last updates on his Facebook page from last March, Dinobewei had called the victim, his “beautiful queen.” He wrote: “Tears mixed wid laughter, lets celebrate life 2 the fullest whilst we remember our lost loved 1s. Shout 2 my beautiful queen Tia who’s makin a beta man of me, luv ya 2 the bone!!”
Friend Meegan Nelson paid tribute on Facebook after Tia’s death saying: “She wanted to change the system. She talked about it with a passion because she’d seen people in difficult circumstances.
“Tia was an independent woman, very strong, a fabulous mother. She was beautiful inside and out. She had a massive heart but was a very strong girl.
“Tia was incredibly loyal to her friends, but wouldn’t take any nonsense. She told it like it was. She was a people person, bubbly, smiling.
“Tia was one of my closest friends.”
Dinobewei was told by His Honour Judge James Burbidge QC: “You have pleaded guilty to unlawful act manslaughter. I will deal with you towards the end of June where there are at least two updated psychiatric reports on which I will base my determining whether the sentence will be one of imprisonment or a hospital order.”
Dinobewei was ordered to remain in the care of The Spinney hospital.
Birmingham City University said Tia was a third-year student on its BSc (Hons) Social Work course and was in the final stages of her degree.
Head of social work Bharat Chauhan said: “She had a bubbly, extrovert personality and had many friends at the university. Her wish was to support vulnerable people as a social worker and she was so near to fulfilling her ambition. She will be sadly missed by students and tutors.”
Detective Inspector Warren Hines said: "Thankfully Dinobewei’s early plea has saved Tia’s family the distress of a trial. Our thoughts remain with them as they continue to come to terms with the loss of their loved one."