Man ‘seen near home of hammer murder victim, 77’

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A man on trial for murder was seen loitering outside a pensioner’s home on the day she was struck at least 30 times with a hammer, a court heard today.

Graeme Jarman, 48, of Consett, County Durham, admitted being near the flat where 77-year-old Judith Richardson was found bludgeoned to death but denies her murder.

Witness Francis Brewis told Newcastle Crown Court he saw Jarman “staring” at Miss Richardson’s home in Hexham, Northumberland.

He was visiting his elderly brother, Edward, who lived next door, on the afternoon of the pensioner’s death – August 19 last year.

“I went into my brother’s house and I saw Mr Jarman sitting on a wall,” he told jurors. “I thought it was someone struggling to get up the street and having a rest.

“But he was just staring across the road to where Miss Richardson lived. I think he had hold of something in his hands. What it was I don’t know.”

Mr Brewis said he went into his brother’s home and looked out of the window several minutes later to see Jarman still there, staring.

A week later, he saw Jarman’s picture in a newspaper after police appealed for information.

Judith Richardson was struck with a hammer as soon as she opened her door to a caller, who the prosecution maintain was Jarman. Her ground floor flat was ransacked and her jewellery stolen as she lay dying in her hallway.

As the murderer left, he repeatedly bludgeoned her again.

Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, had previously told the jury Jarman selected his victim the day before he killed her.

“The prosecution’s case is that the defendant planned her killing and went to her home well prepared for what he intended to do,” he said.

The court was shown CCTV of the defendant wandering round Hexham talking to elderly residents. The prosecution claims he was “observing potential victims” and say that on the day of the murder, Jarman went to Miss Richardson’s home with stolen help the Aged charity leaflets he used to trick his way inside and a stolen hammer.

Jarman was arrested a fortnight later in Filey, North Yorkshire, after officers launched a “full-scale murder hunt”.

Mr Smith yesterday told jurors there was “clear and material evidence” linking Jarman to the killing, including his DNA on a tissue soaked with her blood and his fingerprints on the charity leaflets.

The case continues.