Teresa Ryan death: David McCabe denies setting fatal fire

Teresa Ryan Image copyright Cleveland Police
Image caption Teresa Ryan died from the effects of smoke inhalation

A vulnerable woman died after a burglar set fire to her bed to cover up a break-in, a court has heard.

Teresa Ryan had been celebrating her 50th birthday with her two sons on the night she died from smoke inhalation at her Middlesbrough home on 9 July 2014.

Heroin addict David McCabe, 32, also from Middlesbrough, admits twice burgling her home, but denies murder.

Teesside Crown Court heard Ms Ryan, who had Huntington's Disease, was rescued but died later.

'Eradicated evidence'

Andrew Robertson QC, prosecuting, said that having burgled her Warton Street home the day before, McCabe targeted her house again, but was confronted by Ms Ryan and a struggle ensued.

She was rendered unconscious by the struggle or in a fall, the court heard.

Mr Robertson added: "The defendant had got what he wanted - her handbag - but he realised he was in trouble. When she came to, she would be able to identify him.

"We say the defendant decided to do his best to eradicate any evidence of what he had done."

Image caption David McCabe had burgled Ms Ryan's house twice

He said after she fell unconscious, McCabe, of Barrington Crescent, put Ms Ryan on a sofa in the living room and set fire to her bed which was in the adjoining dining room.

She was pulled from the property, but pronounced dead at the scene shortly afterwards.

The trial continues.

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