Lodger 'murdered landlady after she told him to move'

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Richard Canlin arrives at courtImage source, EDDIE MITCHELL
Image caption,
Richard Canlin denies murdering Nicola Stevenson

A man killed his landlady in a "frenzied attack" with a hammer and dumped her body in a wheelie bin after she asked him to move out, a court heard.

Nicola Stevenson's partially decomposed remains were found in Lewes, East Sussex, on 13 November.

She had emailed a police officer on the day she died asking for help because her lodger Richard Canlin was "getting abusive", Hove Crown Court heard.

Mr Canlin, 42, denies murder.

Ms Stevenson, who had a congenital spine defect and a form of dwarfism called Silver-Russell syndrome, had accused Mr Canlin of stealing her pain medication.

'Not a 999 call'

The 39-year-old, who used a mobility scooter and walked with a stick, phoned police on 101 on 10 October 2019, but got no answer, the court heard.

She then emailed a Sussex Police officer, writing: "Can you call me ASAP. Richard Canlin is getting abusive towards me as I want him out."

She later sent a message to a friend who advised her to call police again.

Ms Stevenson replied: "I've tried but it's not a 999 call is it?"

The prosecution allege Mr Canlin bludgeoned Ms Stevenson with a claw hammer, fracturing her skull, face and neck, before using her phone to try and cover his tracks.

One message, allegedly sent after her death, read: "I've got to say a big sorry to Richard. He did not nick my meds, I've found them. So please don't ring the police."

Caroline Carberry QC, for the prosecution, said Mr Canlin later told friends Ms Stevenson had gone to Scotland and was in hospital.

'Murder weapon'

After her body was found a month later, police visited her home in Stansfield Road and found Mr Canlin "had made himself very much at home", the court heard.

He had used Ms Stevenson's bank card to buy an X Box games console and a snooker table, the jury heard.

Officers found blood on the ceiling and walls of her bedroom, along with a blood-soaked carpet on the floor and a bloody sheet in the washing machine, the court heard.

Police "recovered the murder weapon" - a claw hammer - which tests showed had traces of both Ms Stevenson's blood and Mr Canlin's DNA, the prosecution said.

The trial continues.

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