Joshua Stimpson, a warehouse worker and ex-boyfriend of Molly McLaren, admitted Monday to killing the young university student in a shopping centre car park on June 29 last year. The 26-year-old pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of McLaren in her Citroen car which was parked at the Chatham Dockside Outlet in Kent, U.K. 

Stimpson admitted knifing his ex-girlfriend to death but denied the murder charges against him. He is set to stand trial and the case will be opened by prosecutor Philip Bennetts Tuesday. The first witnesses will be called to give evidence on Wednesday. Judge Adele Williams said Stimpson's trial was expected to last until Feb. 9.

Williams told jurors Monday that they will have to decide whether Stimpson killed the 23-year-old on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The jury consists of seven men and five women.

McLaren suffered multiple stab wounds to her chest, neck and throat during the attack which occurred in June last year. The cause of death was said to be sharp force wounds to the neck.

"In this case the defendant is charged with murder but he has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter," Judge Williams said. "The issue which you are going to be trying is that he raises the defense of diminished responsibility, which reduces the charge of murder to manslaughter."

"But the Crown (Maidstone Crown Court) say this is not a case of diminished responsibility and they argue the defendant is guilty of murder," the judge said.

McLauren was a student at the Medway campus of the University of Kent where she was studying exercise, sport and health education. She lived in the nearby village of Cobham and worked part-time at a local pub, The Leather Bottle.

While paying tribute to McLauren at the time of her death, the manager of the pub described her as "beautiful, lovely-natured, kind-hearted, just perfect."

crime A representative image of a crime scene. Photo: Reuters/Joshua Lott

Witnesses said last year that McLauren was attacked while she desperately beeped the horn of the car she had been locked in. 

On the morning of the attack she had posted a picture of herself enjoying a coffee with the message: "Powered by coffee! Fully enrolled, so it's time to switch the brain on today. Oh anatomy how I've missed you." She ended the post with hashtags including "#positivevibes," "#loveyourself," "#newjourney," "#confidence" and "#workhard."