A PENSIONER was brought to court from his hospital bed to deny he had anything to do with the death of his neighbour.
Edward Brewis, 85, was awaiting surgery when he was asked to give evidence at the murder trial of Graeme Jarman.
Mr Brewis was arrested and held in police custody for two days accused of murdering his neighbour, Judith Richardson, last year.
Police quizzed him after finding his fingerprint on a carrier bag containing the alleged murder weapon.
However, prosecutors say he made an innocent mistake by picking up the bag then putting it back two days later. They say Graeme Jarman was the killer.
Giving evidence in a wheelchair and using a hearing loop because of his hearing problems, Mr Brewis explained he had picked up the hammer because he likes to clean up his street.
He said: “I just picked it up because I saw it in the garden near my sister’s. I get all sorts of things. I clean the street up, I clean all the things up.
“I just saw it there, I didn’t know it was a murder hammer or anything like that.”
Mr Brewis said he found the hammer inside an Aldi carrier bag along St Wilfrid’s Road, Hexham, on the day of the killing. Prosecutors claim Jarman killed Miss Richardson with at least 30 blows.
Mr Brewis said: “When I found the bag there was a hammer inside with hair on it, women’s hair. It was matted with hair.
“It must have been left there by whoever did it. I didn’t do anything with the hammer with the hair on, I didn’t use it.”
Mr Brewis repeatedly denied he had wiped hair from the hammer and said he did not see any blood on it.
Paul Greaney QC, for Jarman, asked Mr Brewis: “I have to ask you Mr Brewis, whether you were in fact involved in an attack on Miss Richardson.”
He replied: “No, I didn’t do that. No.”
The retired farmer was first spoken to by detectives as a witness on August 20 last year, the day after Miss Richardson died.
At 6.05pm on August 21, the day he put the hammer back near where he found it, he was arrested on suspicion of murder when police found the tool.
When he was taken in a police car and was cautioned and arrested, he replied: “Oh no, I didn’t do it, I didn’t do the murder.”
In his first interview, on the afternoon of August 22, officers told him he was suspected of killing his neighbour. He replied: “I didn’t do that.”
The following day, after two nights in police cells, the pensioner was again quizzed. Once more he denied he had attacked Miss Richardson and said he had not hit her with the hammer.
Jarman is accused of battering 77-year-old Miss Richardson to death after tricking his way into her home to steal from her.
Jarman, 48, formerly of Greenways, Delves Lane, Consett, denies murder. The trial continues.