London

Great-grandmother Irene Barrett 'stabbed and battered'

Irene Barrett,
Image caption Mrs Barrett had three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren

An 88-year-old great-grandmother was stabbed and battered by a former neighbour's son she had known since he was a boy, the Old Bailey has heard.

Irene Barrett was found dead in May 2010 at her ransacked tower block flat. She had 53 wounds.

Drug addict Daniel Franklin attacked her after she caught him stealing money or after she refused to give him cash, the prosecution alleges.

Franklin, 34, of Felixstowe Road, Abbeywood, south London, denies murder.

Mrs Barrett, a retired secretary, had a son, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

She had lived alone in the 15th-floor flat in Valiant House, overlooking Charlton Athletic's football stadium, for 20 years.

'Prolonged assault'

Victor Temple, QC, prosecuting, said she was found to have 21 stab wounds and 32 blows to her body.

Three rings had been taken from Mrs Barrett's fingers, including her wedding ring.

She was found by a carer and neighbours hidden under bedclothes on her bed.

"This defendant conducted a vicious and prolonged assault on the old lady," Mr Temple told the jury.

"He either requested money and she refused or alternatively she caught him trying to steal.

"The defendant then proceeded to stab her repeatedly and to strike her."

'Sharp as a button'

There were signs she had put up her hands to fend off the attack but she had not been able to activate an emergency alarm around her neck.

Mrs Barrett had become housebound but was described as being "as sharp as a button".

The widow used to pay Franklin to clean her windows until she suspected him of stealing her money, it was alleged.

"She was reluctant to come to this conclusion because she had known him from the time he was a small boy," said Mr Temple.

Mr Franklin, who denied knowledge of the attack, told officers: "Rene never had a bad bone in her body. She would not hurt a fly."

The trial continues.

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