Boy tells murder trial how he saw quarrel

A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy watched the events leading up to the death of his mother through a hole in the bedroom wall, he told the Old Bailey yesterday.

John Howe, whose name has been released 'in the public interest', described on a video screen how he woke up during the night of last 18 December to hear his parents quarrelling. 'Dad said 'shut-up' twice before they started to quarrel. He was on top of my mum,' the boy said.

Two days later Brenda Howe's naked body was found in Wake Valley Lake at Loughton, Essex. Her face and elbows were bruised, but there was no evidence of sexual interference, John Bevan, for the prosecution, said. 'The dead woman had been asphyxiated, probably caused by suffocation. She was already dead when she was put in the lake', he said.

Brian Howe, 44, denies murdering his wife. He told police that he last saw his wife at 5.30am the day before her body was found. He told police that his wife hit him during a row about her father taking out a loan on his house to start a business, before storming out to go shopping. But his son, who became confused under cross-examination, said the fight was over who pushed who out of bed. 'One thought the other was lying but they were both telling the truth.'

John, who drew a picture of his two-bedroomed house in Walthamstow to show the court how he was able to observe the scene, said that he saw the events through a gap which had been left open after shelves had been installed. 'She rolled out of bed first. He rolled on top of her. Her face was turned to the side; she looked asleep. Dad was looking face down. I saw him lift her up and put her on the bed. He had one hand under her legs and the other hand under her head,' the boy said, using a plastic doll to demonstrate. 'Mum didn't wake up at all. She just carried on sleeping. Her mouth was open.'

Mr Howe's sister-in-law, Janice Bishop, 40, later told the court that her sister had a 'vicious' tongue, but took medication for severe pre-menstrual tension.

The trial continues today.