Burglar killed his aunt, 79, court told: Nephew alleged to have stolen money and come back for more

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The Independent Online
AN ELDERLY woman was stabbed to death when she discovered her nephew burgling her home for the second time, a court heard yesterday.

Anthony Finnegan, 28, of Tyne and Wear, killed Maria Sloane, 79, when she woke up to find him prowling around her bedroom on 5 March last year, it was alleged.

Newcastle upon Tyne Crown Court heard that Mr Finnegan, who denies murder, had stolen benefit books from his widowed aunt and her disabled son, Eddie, 57, while staying with them in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, and had cashed pounds 564.

He burgled the house a few weeks later and stole pounds 600 that was hidden in the bread bin, the court was told. He then returned a fortnight later but when Mrs Sloane awoke and found him in her room, he turned on her and dealt her seven blows with a sheath knife, it was alleged.

Mr Sloane, confined to a wheelchair following a stroke, scrambled through to his mother's room after hearing her screams for help. He switched on the light to see his cousin standing with the knife by her bedside, the court heard. The intruder ran at Mr Sloane and hit him over the head as he fled.

Martin Bethal, for the prosecution, said: 'We submit the reason for the person going into the house was for money and we say it was Finnegan who carried out this murder, having got through the previous cash he had taken two weeks earlier.

'This time he returned to the home armed with a knife, a knife stolen in the previous burglary.'

Mr Sloane suffered a serious head injury but crawled to a neighbour's house for help.

When police arrived at the house they discovered Mrs Sloane dead in her bed. They later discovered a bloody fingerprint on a door frame which belonged to Mr Finnegan, and the murder weapon was found in a grass verge the next day still covered in blood, the court was told.

Mr Sloane told the court that he had met his cousin for the first time a few months earlier, when he came round to the family home to offer his condolences after Eddie's father's funeral.

He came round several times after that and stayed overnight once, claiming that he had been locked out of his own home, Mr Sloane said.

Mr Finnegan admitted to police that he had burgled his aunt's home the first time, but he denied returning and killing her.

The court was told that he had been gambling at a hotel the night before the murder, losing heavily, and in the early hours of the morning a taxi driver had dropped him off in his aunt's street.

The trial continues.