Peter Smith trial: Jury told Skegby pensioner Hilda Owen was killed for her house

Skegby murder victim
Skegby murder victim

A FRESH jury in the retrial of a man accused of murdering a disabled Skegby pensioner have been told that he planned to solve his financial problems by inheriting her house.

Peter Kenneth Smith (48) is accused of murdering 71-year-old Hilda Owen at her home on West Hill in the early part of 2007. He has denied the charge.

In the past fortnight, three juries have been sworn in and discharged shortly after the prosecution opened the trial.

The new jury, which was sworn in at Nottingham Crown Court today (Monday), was told that Hilda, who was a disabled widow, was found dead on 1st March 2007 with 48 fresh injuries, including 29 separate injuries to the head and face.

These were consistent with the use of a claw hammer and screwdriver. The screwdriver was recovered but the hammer has never been found.

Injuries to her neck indicated that she had also been strangled, while further injuries to her limbs and hands suggested that she had tried to defend herself from her attacker. Her injuries also indicated that she had remained alive for between 15 and 24 hours after she was attacked.

The jury was told that Smith, who worked for the Department of Work and Pensions and lived next door, had become friends with his elderly neighbour.

The prosecution say that in the months leading up to her death, Smith, who was heavily in debt, had made false claims for attendance allowance, saying that he was her carer.

They also allege that he had taken steps to ensure that the house was in her name and that she had signed a will, which Smith had purchased from WH Smith on 19th February, handing over her home and possessions to him. The will was backdated to 22nd January.

Peter Joyce, prosecuting, told the court: “It is no coincidence that Hilda’s death occurred while he (Smith) was in severe financial difficulty, after he had described a plan to solve these difficulties by inheriting her house and within two days of his completion of a will that he had purchased, had arranged to be falsely witnessed and that he had backdated.”

The jury was also told that footprints made in blood and dirt at Hilda’s home were consistent with shoes that had been at the defendant’s house. Neither pair of shoes were recovered.

The trial continues.