Peter Smith Trial: Smith thought his neighbour Hilda Owen had been burgled

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A MAN who denies murdering his next door neighbour in Skegby told police: ‘I was of the opinion she had been burgled.’

Peter Smith (48) told an officer he found the bloodstained body of 71-year-old Hilda Owen at her home in West Hill.

He added: “I was deeply upset as Hilda has never done anything to harm anyone.”

A detective constable was giving evidence at Nottingham Crown Court of a witness statement she took from Smith on 1st March 2007 at his home.

Smith said it was windy that morning and he went out to pick up wheelie bins which had blown over.

He noticed the pensioner’s curtains were still shut and the milk was still on the windowsill.

He knocked on her back door and shouted: “All right, Hilda?” but there was no response.

The door was unlocked and he went in. Again there was no reply when he shouted.

He could not open the door to the living room and saw her leg. He looked round the door and saw her lying on her back.

“There was a lot of blood, particularly on the side of her head.

“I touched her and she didn’t move.”

He went back to his own house and called 999 for the ambulance and police.

Papers were strewn about his neighbour’s room, which was not normally the case.

Earlier in his statement he said at 7.30am he had driven to the tip to get rid of an old drawer and other stuff, arriving there before it opened. He then went to have his car valeted for £10.

It was something he did about once a month.

Smith said he used to take Mrs Owen to visit her husband in hospital before he died. After that he helped her in other ways.

He understood she did not have a back door key and just used the bolt.

Independent forensic scientist Terence Napier earlier gave evidence of footwear marks found inside Mrs Owen’s home.

Smith pleads not guilty to murder and the trial continues.