Sunderland woman, 88, killed by carer who stole from her, court told

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A CARER brutally murdered a pensioner she had been stealing money from then set up an “elaborate sham” to cover her tracks, a court heard.

Harriet Davison, 88, was beaten and suffocated in her Sunderland sheltered accommodation flat.

Her carer Beverley James, also known as Briggs, was in the pensioner’s property at the time of the killing, but claims it was carried out by a mystery intruder who also attacked her.

Prosecutor David Hatton, QC, told Newcastle Crown Court: “The prosecution contends she was the only person present and that she, in fact, killed Mrs Davison.

“Having done so, the prosecution suggests she sought to cover her tracks and set about an elaborate sham so as to give the appearance there had been an intruder who had attacked both Mrs Davison and indeed herself, before disappearing. We suggest there was no intruder.”

James, 39, of Springwell Road, Sunderland, denies murder.

The court heard James, who “lived by debt”, was employed by Care at Home, a Sunderland-based firm which provides carers.

James was contracted to tend to Mrs Davison, who lived at Emblehope House, Farringdon, just one day per week but would visit almost every day.

Mr Hatton said: “We suggest there was a financial motivation for her frequent visits to which she was not employed and that there are grounds for believing it was not entirely charitable or honest motivation.”

The court heard James, a school-caretaker’s wife, would cash the housebound pensioner’s weekly Giro and buy her groceries.

A year before Mrs Davison’s death in July last year James had reported another burglary at the third floor flat where money was taken.

Prosecutors say this burglary was also bogus.

Investigators concluded Mrs Davison, who had few outgoings, should have had around £7,000 in cash in her home at the time of her death but only £17 was actually found.

Mr Hatton said: “We suggest the defendant had taken money from Mrs Davison, whether it was taken in one sum that day or whether it was taken over a period of time we cannot say.”

Mr Hatton said prosecutor cannot pinpoint an exact motive for the attack on Mrs Davison, which left her with a fractured cheekbone, fractured ribs, bruising to her body and throw from her bed stuffed into her mouth.

But he told jurors: “We do not in fact need to establish a specific motive if you are satisfied that she in fact carried out this murder.

“Although motives, however, there were.

“Had she been found out? “Was she challenged by Mrs Davison? “Did the stress of her appalling financial situation at the time cause her to snap?

“Whatever the immediate spark, we submit that, on the evidence, you can be satisfied that the defendant was responsible for this death.”

After making a 999 call to say Harriet Davison was dead, James told police, who quickly arrived at the scene, that both she and the pensioner had been attacked by an intruder.

She claims she was pounced on from behind as she was about to leave the flat and told police the attacker, who was a white male in his 30s, bald and tattooed wearing a Sunderland football club t-shirt, had punched both her and Mrs Davison.

She said the intruder had made her carry out a series of bizarre acts which included forcing her to blow smoke from a cigarette onto his naked, private parts.

The trial continues.