Homeless man murdered pensioner who took him in and burnt her body, trial told
A homeless man murdered the elderly woman who took him in and burnt her body on a bonfire in her garden after she wanted him to leave, a court has heard.
Allan Scott, 42, lodged with 83-year-old Patricia Holland at her home in Gorleston in Norfolk, a trial at Norwich Crown Court was told.
David Spens KC, opening the prosecution case, said Mrs Holland was a “charitable woman concerned with people who were down on their luck and the homeless”.
He said that Scott was homeless and Mrs Holland “offered him a roof over his head”.
Mr Spens said that by March 2020 Scott had moved into her home in Lowestoft Road, but before long he became aggressive towards her and eventually she wanted him to leave.
The prosecutor said that Scott had killed Mrs Holland on the night of July 24 into July 25 2021.
“Before long he started to act aggressively towards her,” said the prosecutor.
“Often he was the worse for drink.
“On occasions he became violent towards her and… he became controlling of her.
“By the time a year or so had passed, by May or June 2021 if not before, Mrs Holland wanted him out of her home.
“Mr Scott however was determined to stay and his best chance of being able to stay in her house was if she went missing.
“This was because if she died, according to the terms of her will he would no longer be able to stay.
“He would be liable for eviction.
“The prosecution case is he violently attacked her on July 24 into July 25, 2021, and burned her body on a bonfire in her back garden in an attempt to destroy all traces of her.
“He did that, we say, so he could pretend she had gone missing knowing full well that the little that remained of her after the fire he had set lay buried in her back garden.”
Mr Spens said that Mrs Holland, who used a walking frame, was “frail” and “prone to fall, but she wasn’t suffering from any underlying illness”.
He said she had two sons who had died, one in 2016 and one in 2019, and that she had a daughter who lived nearby.
“Friends describe Mrs Holland as having a heart of gold and always happy; neighbours describe her as a lovely kind-hearted woman,” said Mr Spens.
He said that it was not possible to determine whether great-grandmother Mrs Holland was dead before she was put on the bonfire.
“When the police found her burnt and charred body there was so little of it left it wasn’t possible to discover the cause of her death,” said Mr Spens.
“Although it’s likely she was already dead when he threw her on the bonfire, one would hope she was already dead, the available evidence doesn’t show whether she was indeed dead when he did throw her.”
He continued: “Either way the result is the same – the prosecution case is that he murdered her.”
Scott denies murder.
Mr Spens told jurors that the defendant has pleaded guilty to the offence of unlawfully preventing a burial.
Judge Alice Robinson told jurors that Scott “has been involved with mental health services for many years” and has a personality disorder.
She said he has been assessed as fit for trial and told jurors not to form judgments about his behaviour in the dock, which she said may at times seem “unusual”.
Neighbour Catherine Cook said that she called police in September 2020 when she saw Mrs Holland “almost in tears” outside her home.
Mrs Cook said that Mrs Holland told her Scott was “smashing up my kitchen – she said he was accusing her of stealing his methadone”.
The trial, estimated to last for three weeks, continues.