A MAN accused of killing an elderly woman in her own home has declined an opportunity to give evidence at his murder trial.
Graeme Jarman is alleged to have battered 77-year-old Judith Richardson to death with a hammer after tricking his way into her flat in Hexham.
Yesterday prosecutors closed their case and the stage was reached where Jarman had the opportunity to take to the witness box.
But Paul Greaney QC, for Jarman, told trial judge Mr Justice Openshaw there would be no evidence called on behalf of the defence.
The judge asked the barrister: “Have you advised your client the stage has now been reached at which he may give evidence and if he chooses not to do so or refused to answer any questions, the jury may draw such inferences as appear proper from his decision?”
Mr Greaney confirmed he had.
In his closing speech for the prosecution, Robert Smith QC told jurors the murder was “astonishingly brutal and truly shocking” but said they must put emotion to one side in considering their verdict.
Mr Smith said: “Judith Richardson died, you may think, in the most appalling circumstances. It was an unnecessary and particularly brutal killing.
“The circumstances in which her life was ended were astonishingly brutal and truly shocking.
“However emotion, shock, sympathy or anger will not assist you to decide the essential question in this case, that is whether the prosecution have proved so you are sure that the person who entered Miss Richardson’s home and there killed her in order to steal from her, was the defendant.”
Jarman admits he was in Miss Richardson’s street, St Wilfrid’s Road, Hexham, at the time she was killed.
He claims he found her stolen handbag by chance and says he then sold jewellery he found inside it.
Mr Smith said: “If he did not kill her, he has been the victim of an unfortunate chain of circumstances.
“If he did not kill her some unknown person deposited items bearing his fingerprints in Miss Richardson’s home and, by mischance, DNA which matched his DNA was found in her bedroom on a tissue which her murderer held.
“It’s for you to decide whether this combination of circumstances could have arisen by chance or whether the defendant killed Miss Richardson.”
Mr Smith said Jarman was a “devious individual” who had gone on the run after the alleged attack.
He said: “He decided to go on the run after the murder, shaving his head, putting contaminated clothing in various bins, clearly aware police were looking for him by means of publicity in the media.
“They were the actions of a man who had very much to fear by being recognised and arrested.”
Jarman is alleged to have tricked his way into Miss Richardson’s home using an Age UK leaflet, then bludgeoned her to death with at least 30 blows to the head with a hammer.
Jarman, 48, formerly of Greenways, Delves Lane, Consett, denies murder. The trial continues.