An “evil” amateur beekeeper has been jailed for life to serve a minimum of 14 years for the manslaughter of a “vulnerable, kind” woman who had been a family friend since he was a young boy.
Matthew Reynolds was convicted at Winchester Crown Court of causing the death of 47-year-old Bonnie Harwood who was stabbed to death in a robbery at her home in Alton, Hampshire, in the early hours of October 10 2021.
Sentencing the 32-year-old, Judge Angela Morris said he should be regarded as “dangerous” and added: “Bonnie Harwood was a kind and caring and generous woman who was much loved by her family and friends and she is sorely missed.”
She continued: “It’s an indisputable fact in the days leading up to Bonnie Harwood’s death you were spiralling out of control because of your insatiable addiction for crack cocaine and heroin.
“This offence was motivated by greed for the cash and drugs you knew Bonnie Harwood had.
“You are cunning, manipulative and devoid of any remorse for what you did to Bonnie Harwood.
“She was totally vulnerable and helpless.”
In a statement read to the court, the victim’s mother Roberta ‘Bobby’ Harwood said: “I can’t sleep any more, each time I close my eyes I see Bonnie fighting him off, I feel physical pain thinking of the terror she would be in.
“Bonnie was so caring. He has taken her away from us, this has affected so many people, she was so popular.”
The victim’s father, Michael ‘Spike’ Harwood said: “She was so kind-hearted. She was a thoughtful and loving daughter and we miss her so much.”
Her sister, Karen, described Reynolds as an “evil killer” and added: “Bonnie was my little sister, we loved each other.
“Bonnie was a kind person, she would help anyone she could. I will never forgive and miss her forever.”
The prosecution told the court that drug addict Reynolds stabbed Ms Harwood, who was also a drug user, multiple times in a robbery to steal her money and drugs before leaving her to bleed to death.
But the jury found that Reynolds had not intended to cause the death of Ms Harwood, who had health problems and used a mobility scooter to get around.
Giving evidence, Reynolds told the court that he had known Ms Harwood since he was a child and he had gone camping with her family.
Reynolds, from Alton, said that he had started using heroin at the age of 14 and had gone on to take crack cocaine.
He said that he would visit Ms Harwood’s home “practically every day”, where he would swap crack cocaine for heroin from her.
James Newton-Price QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Reynolds had financial difficulties from drug debts and was in a “state of turmoil” on the day of the fatal incident.
The amateur beekeeper had sold his bee hives and honey to raise money having recently lost his job as a yard assistant at a builder’s yard, the court heard.
Reynolds was also sentenced to a concurrent sentence of three years in prison for a charge of robbery using an axe against another woman in a Post Office three days before the fatal attack.