Pensioners who lived 120 miles apart ‘were murdered by same man who then sold their valuables on Gumtree’

Leo Barnes is accused of murdering Cynthia Beamond from Birmingham and Philip Silverstone from London

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The deaths of two pensioners who lived 120 miles apart have been laid at the feet of the “only” man believed to be connected to both, who allegedly sold their valuables online after brutally murdering them, a Wolverhampton court heard yesterday.

Leo Barnes is accused of murdering Cynthia Beamond, 80, from Halesowen near Birmingham, and Philip Silverstone, 67, of Belsize Park in north London.

Wolverhampton Crown Court  was told that police officers investigating the cases, committed over a 100 miles apart but within days of each other, discovered that the 33-year-old was the only link between the pensioners – both of whom he had known as a boy.

Mr Barnes Runcorn Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, denies both the murder charges.

The court heard that Mr Barnes had known Mrs Beamond as a child and had lived in the same building as Mr Silverstone growing up. He was described as “the only link” between the pair by prosecutor Stephen Linehan.

“They didn’t know each other - the only link between them was that at some stage in their lives they had had the misfortune to come into contact with the defendant, Leo Barnes, and he had got to know them and to know where they lived,” Mr Linehan claimed. “That is what led to their deaths.”

On 28 June Mr Barnes is alleged to have driven a rented car to London and bludgeoned Mr Silverstone to death with a car jack.

His body was discovered on 20 June, but only after Mr Silverstone’s dementia-stricken wife had been alone in the property with the corpse for almost 30 hours.

Prior to this, it is alleged he stole a television from Mrs Beamond, before allegedly brutally beating her to death.

Mr Barnes spent hours in Mrs Beamond’s kitchen mopping up the blood from his crime, then closed the curtains in order to ransack the home for more valuables to sell, the court heard.

CCTV footage, the court heard, captures him driving to pawnbrokers Cash Generators to sell a television after which he allegedly attempted to sell the pensioner’s car – left on the street outside near her home – on Gumtree for £550.

Mrs Beamond was reported missing by her concerned daughter in June last year and after a concerted manhunt her body was later discovered hidden in the garage two days after her murder.

The trial continues.

Additional reporting by Press Association