Nottingham

Hilda Owen, 71, 'lay dying for up to 24 hours'

Hilda Owen
Image caption Hilda Owen was described in court as 'defenceless'

An elderly and disabled widow took up to 24 hours to die after her neighbour attacked her with a screwdriver and hammer, a trial has heard.

Peter Smith is accused of murdering 71-year-old Hilda Owen so he could inherit her money and Nottinghamshire home.

Nottingham Crown Court heard the civil servant was becoming desperate about money and he had got Mrs Owen to make her will out to him.

The 48-year-old denies murdering Mrs Owen in February 2007.

Peter Joyce QC, prosecuting, said: "The prosecution's case is that this defendant killed his defenceless, elderly, disabled, neighbour for her money, her house and her possessions."

Mrs Owen lived next door to Mr Smith, who worked for the Department for Work and Pensions, in West Hill, Skegby.

Jurors heard she lived frugally and kept £17,805 of savings in her wardrobe.

She was very disabled, Mr Joyce said, and her health and mobility had deteriorated to the extent that food had to be delivered to her home address.

Mr Joyce said Mr Smith's former boyfriend, Adam Dixon, had helped Mrs Owen and her husband after they became neighbours in 2002.

Visits 'a nuisance'

"Mr Smith didn't get involved because he didn't like the smell and the state of the house and he later described visiting Hilda, or having to visit Hilda, as 'a bit of a nuisance'," said Mr Joyce.

Jurors heard Mr Smith dishonestly received £65.25 a week attendance allowance for Mrs Owen after he lied in the application, exaggerating her disability and falsely claiming to be her carer.

In the days before Mrs Owen was murdered, Mr Smith got the widow to sign a will leaving her house and estate to him, Mr Joyce said.

She is then believed to have been attacked on 27 February, receiving 48 fresh injuries or groups of injuries, including 29 separate injuries to the head and face area.

Blood staining in the house indicated she was firstly attacked from behind while sitting in a wooden chair, then attacked on the floor.

Mr Joyce said her injuries were consistent with the use of a claw hammer and screwdriver.

A screwdriver with Mrs Owen's blood on it was recovered from her house.

She died from brain injuries, but Mr Joyce said she was also partly strangled.

"She took 15 to 24 hours to die but she wasn't found until a day and a half after the attack," said Mr Joyce, who said Mr Smith pretended to find the body on 1 March.

The retrial continues.

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