Hilda Owen trial continues

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THE jury in the retrial of a man accused of killing a vulnerable pensioner have been told details of her horrifying death.

Peter Kenneth Smith (48) is accused of murdering 71-year-old Hilda Owen at her home on West Hill in the early part of 2007. He has denied the charges.

Peter Kenneth Smith (48) is accused of murdering 71-year-old Hilda Owen,who grew up in Crich, at her home on West Hill in the early part of 2007. He has denied the charges.

Yesterday, a third jury was sworn in after two were discharged last week.

They were told that Hilda, who was a disabled widow, was found on 1st March 2007 with 48 fresh injuries, including 29 separate injuries to the head and face – which were consistent with a claw hammer and screwdriver.

Injuries to her neck indicated that she had also been strangled, while further injuries to her limbs and hands suggested that she had tried to defend herself from her attacker.

In his opening statement, Peter Joyce QC, prosecuting, told the court: “The blows to the head had caused injuries to the brain that led to death but the pattern of injury to the brain indicated that Hilda had remained alive for between 15 and 24 hours after the attack.”

The jury was told that Smith, who worked for the Department of Work and Pensions and lived next door, had become friends with his elderly neighbour.

The prosecution say that in the months leading up to her death, Smith, who was heavily in debt, had made false claims for attendance allowance, saying that he was her carer.

They also allege that he had taken steps to ensure that the house was in her name and she had signed a will, which Smith had purchased from WH Smith on 19th February, handing over her home and possessions to him. The will was backdated to 22nd January.

On 27th February, the night of Hilda’s attack, mobile phone records indicated that Smith had been at Sherwood Pines at Edwinstowe.

He later told police that he had been at Thieves Wood and Noman’s Hill Wood near Sutton looking for sex and that the mobile phone evidence must be wrong.

The jury was also told that footprints made in blood and dirt at Hilda’s home were consistent with shoes alleged to have been at the defendant’s house.

The trial continues.