Woman jailed for life for murdering OAP with wine bottle

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The Independent Online

A woman was jailed for life with a minimum term of 30 years today for killing a 91-year-old man with a bottle of wine.

Melanie Cole, 49, battered retired builder William Reilly over his head with a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, four days after last Christmas.

Mr Reilly was found covered in blood sitting on the edge of his bed by his son James at their home in Tower Gardens, Tottenham, north London.

He suffered head and face injuries after being clubbed with the the full bottle of wine and then a bottle of liqueur, the Old Bailey heard.

The pensioner, registered blind and almost completely deaf, died a week later in hospital after developing pneumonia.

Zoe Johnson, prosecuting, said Cole killed Mr Reilly for the money he had in his coat pocket.

She said: "He was murdered for money."

Cole had previously stolen money from him after befriending his family.

She used to turn up unannounced and was the last person to visit the house before Mr Reilly was attacked.

Cole, of Culford Road, Islington, north London, was found guilty of murder.

Judge David Paget told her: "It may be that you will never be released and may die in prison.

"You battered to death a 91-year-old man in his home in order to get money from him for drink or drugs. It may have been only £20.

"What is truly shocking is the brutality of what you did."

It was the third time Cole had appeared at the Old Bailey charged with murder.

She was formally acquitted of murder in 2005 when two juries failed to reach verdicts in the case of Robin Williams, 47.

Mr Williams was hit over the head with a bottle and stabbed. He was found in a bath at his Tottenham home.

The jury was not told of the previous case because it would have been prejudicial, the court heard.

The judge agreed with the decision but criticised the Crown Prosecution Service's handling of the case, which he said had left Miss Johnson disadvantaged.

Mr Reilly, who was born in Prison, Balla, Co Mayo, Ireland, was part of a large family.

His son Sean said in a statement he was much loved by all his friends and family and would be greatly missed.

He had been killed in a "brutal and mindless act".

Mr Reilly said: "He stood for decency and integrity - qualities which Melanie Cole knew nothing about."

Detective Chief Inspector Steven Lawrence said outside court: "Melanie Cole is an evil woman.

"Bill was a well-known figure in the local community. He was a hardworking family man who had worked up until the age of 78 years old as a builder.

"He was a widower with three sons and six grandchildren whose life was sacrificed in order to feed Cole's addiction to drink and drugs."