Northam Murder: Expert says trail of clues link carer to the scene

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 who allegedly killed an elderly client has been linked to the murder scene by a string of forensic clues.

Michael Robinson’s DNA was found on the ring finger of frail widow Carol Hart and his fingerprint was lifted from a bloodstained rail on the bed where she was attacked.

He had been her carer until three days before the killing in January this year when he was suspended and reported to police for allegedly using her bank card to make thousands of pounds worth of unauthorised withdrawals.

A jury at Exeter Crown Court have been show a video of the murder scene in which heavy blood staining was visible on the bed and on the floor beneath it.

The body of 77-year-old Mrs Hart had been removed but the scene was otherwise almost exactly how it looked when she was found by a stand-in carer at her home in J H Taylor Drive on January 11, 2021.

The prosecution say Robinson went to the house in the early hours of the morning and killed her during an argument about the missing money.

Robinson, aged 35, of Seaview Road, Northam, denies murder and the theft. He says someone else killed her and there are innocent explanations for forensic evidence linking him to the scene.

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Blood and DNA expert Mrs Penny Griffiths told the court that Robinson’s DNA had been found on a black work boot which had Mrs Hart’s DNA on the sole, uppers and lace holes.

The pattern was consistent with the boot being used to kick or stamp on her head at a time when she was already bleeding.

Mrs Griffiths said Robinson’s DNA on Mrs Hart’s ring finger had probably been deposited there very recently. She rejected his claim to have cleaned the ring three days earlier.

She said: “I find it highly unlikely that DNA would remain detectable three to four days later, even if she had not washed her hands in all that time. If she had washed her hands, it would remove the DNA.”

She said a trace of DNA recovered from under Robinson’s fingernail was 67.000 times more likely to have come from Mrs Hart than a random person.

Mrs Griffiths said Robinson’s DNA was found in a bloody fingerprint on a rail of the hospital-style bed in which Mrs Hart slept. The detachable rail was shown to the jury in an evidence bag.

She said rejected Robinson’s explanation that it got there when he changed a plaster on her foot when he was still her carer and said the DNA on the plaster was mostly from Mrs Hart.

There was a trace of DNA from someone else but it was at too low a level to analyse. She said it was ‘highly unlikely’ that the DNA on the fingerprint on the bed could have survived there for three or more days, even if the rail had not been cleaned in the meantime.

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