Grandmother 'tortured for PIN code'

 

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A man tortured a pensioner with a knife for her credit card pin number and then beat her to death with her own marble rolling pin, a court heard today.

Grandmother Georgina Edmonds was "brutally murdered" in January 2008 inside her country cottage in Brambridge, Hampshire, by electrician Matthew Hamlen, 33, the prosecution allege.

A jury at Winchester Crown Court was told that Mrs Edmonds lived in the grounds of her son Harry's house and was independent, but suffered from osteoporosis and had had several hip replacements.

The 77-year-old was discovered in a pool of blood in the kitchen by her son and two estate workers after the house was found in darkness. She had been unable to defend herself or activate a personal alarm, the court heard.

Michael Bowes QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "The many knife wounds penetrated Georgina Edmonds's skin. Their pattern suggests they had been inflicted with some deliberation rather than a significant degree of force.

"Given the theft of her credit card and its unsuccessful use hours later, the inference is she was tortured in order to obtain her pin and then beaten to death."

Hamlen, from Eastleigh, Hants, denies murder.

Mr Edmonds went to see his mother after he returned home from work on January 11.

He noticed that all the lights were off, which was unusual and the door was locked which was also unusual, Mr Bowes said.

"The whole place seemed dark and still and he had a feeling that something was just not right," he told the jury.

Mr Edmonds tried to phone his mother but got no answer. He later returned to the house with the estate workers and found the pensioner.

"Initially he thought she had fallen. He then saw his mother lying flat on her face, completely still, with a very significant pool of blood coming from her head or face," the barrister explained.

"He saw that her trousers had been pulled down slightly and that on the back of her head there was a significant pinkish dent, as if caused by one huge hit or by several blows in the same place.

"It was obvious to him that she was dead and that she had been murdered."

Mr Bowes told the jury that Mrs Edmonds had suffered knife wounds to her neck, shoulder, abdomen and thighs and fractured ribs, and the prosecution claim they were due to "jabbing which was part of escalating violence in order to get information out of her".

He said her credit card, mobile phone and handbag were stolen and that her alleged murderer, Hamlen, had attempted to use the card unsuccessfully in a nearby Tesco Express cash machine at 10.38pm that night and he was captured on CCTV disguised in a hooded fluorescent jacket.

Mr Bowes also told the jury there was a "forensic DNA link to Hamlen" from the rolling pin handle.

Cell site analysis of Hamlen's mobile phone also showed him in the vicinity of where Mrs Edmonds lived.

Hamlen was first interviewed as a witness in August 2008 when he said he did not know the area around the cottage well and he was at work that day.

When interviewed under caution in 2010, Hamlen said he could not remember his movements that day and he denied the murder, but he said to police he walked all around the area where the cottage was.

He said he might have gone into the grounds of the cottage, which he knew, because he liked old houses and castles and he liked to have "a nose". But he could not be sure whether he was in the cottage on the day of the murder.

The self-employed electrician said that in 2008 he had a £100-a-week cocaine habit and he admitted he had been under pressure to pay back drugs debts and may have been threatened with violence.

Police found he was nearly £6,000 in debt in January 2008.

The case, which is expected to last six weeks, was adjourned until tomorrow.

PA