Yoga teacher guilty of murdering her lodger after claiming it was self-defence

Dawn Lewis has been found guilty of murdering her lodger  (Avon and Somerset Police)
Dawn Lewis has been found guilty of murdering her lodger (Avon and Somerset Police)

A yoga teacher is facing life in prison after being found guilty of murdering her lodger, with a jury rejecting her claim that she acted in self-defence.

Dawn Lewis, 53, was convicted of stabbing 61-year-old Glenn Richards to death at her home, allegedly because she wanted to evict him.

Richards, an ex-police officer, moved into the defendant’s home in Glastonbury, Somerset, last August after being released from prison for killing his former wife in 2011. The court was told that the pair would often argue and he would complain about her noise.

Giving evidence during her trial, Lewis claimed to have feared for her life during a “struggle” with the knife and alleged that he had tried to kill her but fell down the stairs after she fought back, allowing her to pick up the blade and use it against him to prevent him from attacking her further.

But after nearly nine hours of deliberation, the jury rejected her claim that she was only defending herself when she carried out the fatal stabbing on 18 April.

During the three-week trial, the court was told that detectives became suspicious of her account after the doctor who treated her leg wounds suggested they appeared to be “self-inflicted”.

An associate of Lewis then informed officers that she’d told him she wanted Richards to move out of her house.

He described a video call with her just hours before the incident in which she’d showed him a knife and spoke of stabbing Richards in his bedroom before doing the same to herself so she could claim self-defence.

Detectives also uncovered aggressive voicemails left by Lewis and text messages between the pair that cast doubt on her version of events.

Richards suffered five large stab wounds, two of which were “not survivable”, while Lewis sustained three cuts to her thigh, which a doctor told the trial “did not appear to fit the description of the attack”.

She was found guilty at Bristol Crown Court on Thursday by a majority of 11 to one after jurors deliberated for nearly nine hours, and will be sentenced in a hearing at 10:30am on Friday.

Bodycam footage shows police outside Dawn Lewis’s home in Glastonbury as she was arrested for stabbing her lodger (Avon and Somerset Constabulary/SWNS)
Bodycam footage shows police outside Dawn Lewis’s home in Glastonbury as she was arrested for stabbing her lodger (Avon and Somerset Constabulary/SWNS)

“Dawn Lewis claimed she feared Glenn Richards and was worried what he’d to do her as his mental health was deteriorating,” said the senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Neil Meade of Avon and Somerset Police.

“After deciding she no longer wanted him to lodge with her, she concocted a plan she thought would allow her to get away with his murder. She perhaps thought the witness who she revealed her plan to wouldn’t tell us of their conversation out of loyalty, but this belief was misguided.

“The witnesses’ evidence, along with that of the doctor who treated Lewis at hospital, and the picture the text messages between her and Mr Richards painted of their relationship, were compelling. The jury had no choice in my mind but to reject Lewis’s lies and find her guilty of murder.”

DI Meade added: “Mr Richards had been estranged from his sons for a number of years but had recently begun to reconnect. They were due to meet up in the near future, but Lewis’s actions robbed them of this opportunity.

“Specially trained family liaison officers have kept them informed throughout and our thoughts continue to be with them.”

Lewis claimed that she had become increasingly alarmed about her lodger’s behaviour and began carrying a knife because he started talking “in a different manner” about the killing of his wife and “fantasising about how he would do it differently”. She added: “I was terrified he was going to jump out and stab me.”

The trial heard that Richards had been convicted of manslaughter for the killing of his wife due to diminished responsibility.

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On the day of Richards’ death, she claimed that the defendant had “lunged” at her with a knife after she threatened to call the police.

“He lunged at me and I saw he had a knife,” she said. “I grabbed his arm. Then I bit him; he dropped the knife. He was going to kill me. I picked up the knife. I think at the time I thought I’d stabbed him in the stomach, but he was still holding on to me. I know I stabbed him, it was me, nobody else, I have to own that.”

Lewis told the jury he then tried to stab her again during a struggle and she shoved him with her foot and he fell down the stairs. She said: “I wanted him to break a leg or be unconscious. I wanted him away.

“He was sitting at the bottom of the stairs looking up with a knife still in his hand. He was conscious and had the knife in his hand. He then slouched and the knife dropped. He cried out “help me”. He grabbed my ankle and I fell on my knees. He went for the knife but didn’t get it. So I grabbed it and stabbed him.”

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Lewis phoned 999 to report the incident and the call was played to the jury. When asked to say exactly what had happened by the call handler, she responded: “Right, I don’t know really what happened. He’s a lodger; I wanted to get him out. He said no.

“I went to the door, he stabbed me in the leg, I took the knife off him, I stabbed him. He fell down the stairs – I stabbed him again as he was trying to take the knife off me, and I called you.”

Video footage played to the jury also showed the moment of her arrest as police entered the residence holding a taser, telling her to lie on the floor, with her telling them: “Check my friend. I’m wounded but I’m not f****** dead.”

Additional reporting by SWNS