Pregnant woman 'shot after dispute about noise'

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The Independent Online

A man went on trial yesterday accused of murdering a pregnant 22-year-old woman on her doorstep after she became involved in an argument with a "neighbour from hell".

Jurors at the Old Bailey heard that Thomas Hughes, 40, shot Krystal Hart twice in the head after she feuded with Angie Brewer, a mutual acquaintance with whom Mr Hughes was said to be infatuated. Ms Hart was living in the same apartment block as Ms Brewer in Battersea, south-west London, when she was killed on Good Friday last year.

Mr Hughes, described as a loner who lived with his mother, has pleaded not guilty to the murder and to possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Jurors were shown footage from CCTV at the flats which showed Mr Hughes calling for Ms Hart and her boyfriend, David Siveter, to come outside. Two shots are then fired and Ms Brewer can be heard screaming. The court heard that Mr Siveter had earlier taken down the number plate of Mr Hughes's car.

Ms Brewer, 53, was said to have later told police: "Finally Krystal opened the door. He [Mr Hughes] held the gun to her head and she looked at me pleading. He shot her." She added: "[Mr Hughes] aimed the gun at my stomach and I screamed."

Aftab Jafferjee, for the prosecution, said Ms Brewer had been cleared of criminal involvement in the murder, but added that "moral responsibility is another matter". He said Ms Brewer – who was about to be served with an antisocial behaviour order– was a "neighbour from hell".

The court heard Mr Hughes and Mr Siveter had largely kept out of a dispute until Mr Hughes parked in front of Ms Hart's home on 6 April 2007, after which Mr Siveter is said to have made a note of the car's number plate.

Mr Jafferjee said that was the "catalyst" for what happened next. "Hughes went to his own home near by, collected a gun and returned to shoot Ms Hart at point-blank range in her head, killing her instantly. His primary target had been the boyfriend," the barrister said .

The court heard that Mr Hughes had called for Ms Hart and Mr Siveter to come out of her flat, and shot Ms Hart twice in the hallway when she opened the door.

Mr Jafferjee said Mr Hughes was "almost certainly infatuated with" Ms Brewer, even though he "recognised" her "failings". He is said to have described her as "a mad old woman" but told her that he would cut off his arm or his leg for her if he had to.

Ms Brewer is said to have complained to Mr Hughes about her neighbours. Mr Jafferjee said she was "obsessed about noise levels from upstairs whoever the neighbour would be".

He added that police had "had enough" of her complaining and thought she was "irrational". He said authorities had been compiling evidence to issue her with an Asbo. She will give evidence at the trial.

Ms Hart's mother, Deborah Penfold, said her daughter's death was "senseless and tragic".

The case continues.