Alleged murderer's bloody fingerprint found on pensioner's bed

The scene at JH Taylor Drive in Northam where an elderly woman was declared dead, launching a murder enquiry

The scene at JH Taylor Drive in Northam where an elderly woman was declared dead, launching a murder enquiry - Credit: Ray Goldsmith

A carer accused of killing a pensioner in her North Devon home left a bloody fingerprint on her bed, a jury have been told.

Michael Robinson is on trial at Exeter Crown Court accused of strangling and beating Carol Hart to death in January this year.

He allegedly left a finger print with Mrs Hart’s blood on it at the scene and threw away a bloodstained pair of size 12 boots within hours of the killing.

Robinson was a carer who had been suspended shortly before the killing after 77-year-old Mrs Hart complained that he had used her bank card to steal thousands of pounds from her.

The prosecution say he let himself into Mrs Hart’s home on the night of Sunday January 10 or the early hours of the next morning and killed her in a ‘brutal and vicious attack’

They say he stole from her to pay off gambling and drug debts and to feed a cocaine and cannabis habit and killed her when she would not withdraw her complaint.

Robinson, aged 35, of Seaview Road, Northam, denies murder and the theft of £4,000 withdrawn from her account in November and December 2020.

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Miss Jo Martin, QC, prosecuting, said a trail of forensic evidence linked Robinson to the killing.

She said the downstairs room where Mrs Hart slept was left covered in blood and there was so much that it not only soaked her pillow but shorted out an extension lead next to her bed.

That had triggered an automatic alert from her SOS pendant when the power cut out, sometime between 3 to 7 am on the 11th.

Robinson left a fingerprint in her blood on the rail of her hospital style bed which he later claimed got there when he was changing a plaster on a bleeding toe the previous week.

His DNA was recovered from the inside of her wedding ring and there was material under his fingernail which may have come from Mrs Hart. He said he had cleaned the ring for her.

Miss Martin said a bloody footprint at the scene matched a size 12 Arco work boot which police recovered from rubbish which had just been collected from the street where he lived.

Robinson was a former binman who was nicknamed Chinny because of his prominent chin and who was identified by the crew as a man in a Chelsea shirt who had gone into the street at 7 am on the Monday morning and thrown two black bin bags straight into the back of the lorry.

The boots were found to have Mrs Hart’s blood on the outside and the DNA of Robinson and two unknown people on the inside. He was seen wearing similar boots when making one of his cashpoint withdrawals in November.

He later said they were not his but were left at her home for use by dog walkers.

Miss Martin said Robinson’s motive for the thefts was that he was in debt. He and his partner had unpaid utility and rates bills and he was found with traces of cocaine and cannabis in his blood when he was arrested.

She said his relationship with partner Michelle Cameron was under strain and the theft allegation meant his life was falling apart.

Miss Martin said: “Perhaps he went to her home in the early hours of that Monday morning with the intention of killing her. Perhaps he wanted to frighten her into withdrawing the allegations.

“Perhaps, when he went through her unlocked back door, he just wanted to talk to her. Perhaps she would not be silenced, frightened or persuaded into withdrawing the allegations which were going to ruin his life.

“Did she get feisty with him and tell him to get out? What we can say is that all the forensic evidence points to the fact that he lost whatever control he still had and attacked her violently while she was still in bed.

“He hit her on the head and face until she was bleeding so badly the pillow was soaked in blood and strangled her with such force he broke her neck.

“When she was on the floor, he kicked her so hard that he fractured her eye socket and jaw with the boots which he was to throw away an hour or so later. Once he started, he had no thought but to carry on to the bitter end.”

In an opening statement, defence barrister Mr Sean Brunton, QC, told the jury they would have to consider whether Mrs Hart had given Robinson permission to withdraw her money and whether someone else had carried out the killing.

He said much of the forensic evidence could be explained by Robinson’s previous visits to the house as carer.

He said: “The issue is whether she was killed by somebody else, or by this man. He simply says it was not him.”

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