Double murder accused ‘robbed victims after ransacking homes’

Julie Davison.
Julie Davison.
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A robber who brutally murdered a pensioner before ransacking his home struck again within days, knifing a disabled woman to death at her North Yorkshire home when his stolen money ran out, a jury heard.

Colin Dunford, 81, died from multiple blows to his face and head, including punches and kicks, and was also stamped on during the attack at his home in Middlesbrough by a former neighbour, James Allen, the prosecution claimed at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.

Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, said Allen stole bank papers, coins, a bank card and a mobile phone and when the money he had taken ran out he struck again, this time in Whitby.

Julie Davison, 50, was vulnerable having been disabled by a painful degenerative disease. She was killed in her Church Square flat, after Allen was seen in the communal hallway, having entered through the front door left open for tenants and visitors, he said.

She had 31 knife wounds to her head, neck and shoulders and had died from the injuries to her neck that severed her carotid artery. Mr Smith said it was the Crown’s case that Allen stole jewellery, cash and a laptop from her home along with a jacket and trainers which he was subsequently seen wearing, having disposed of his own probably bloodstained trainers.

He said Allen sold the jewellery in Scarborough and the laptop later in Leeds where he was eventually arrested.

Allen, 36, then of Lothian Road, Middlesbrough, denies the murders of both Mr Dunford and Ms Davison in April this year.

Mr Smith told the jury: “The motive for their deaths in each instance was robbery. Each of them was brutally attacked in their homes, the contents of which had been ransacked, and the person responsible, can, having regard to the violence used, have intended nothing less than their deaths.”

Allen’s partner, Amanda Grieves, lived at the house next door to Mr Dunford until June last year.

Mr Smith told the court that Mr Dunford was security-conscious and would not have opened the door to someone he did not know.

He regularly withdrew £100 a week in cash, and visited a local club each night to have two pints before walking home with a friend, George Foreman.

He did not go out on the night of April 22, however, and when he also failed to show up the following evening, Mr Foreman and others went to check on him and found his body, with his pockets turned out and the house ransacked.

There were also bloodstained footmarks later found to be similar to a brand favoured by Allen, who on the night of April 22 stayed at a friend’s flat having claimed to have had a massive “bust up” with his girlfriend.

At one point he had returned there, sweating, agitated and anxious with blood on one of his socks and was seen with a jar full of coins, the court heard.

Allen’s bank account had a balance of 96p in the hours before Julie Davison was murdered, said Mr Smith.

On April 23 Allen was seen cycling to Whitby and then on to Scarborough.

On the evening of April 24 Ms Davison went to the Rifle Club in Whitby where she won £20 at bingo and also collected £45 from a bonus ball win. She had withdrawn £200 from her Post Office account on April 23, but after her body was discovered that cash could not be found.

Mr Smith said she returned to her home with a friend, Nigel Bradder, who spent the night there, leaving at around 6.45am. He saw a man outside the property smoking a cigarette, who is alleged to be Allen.

Allen repeatedly checked his bank balance during the night as though expecting some money that never arrived. Mr Smith said the last check was made at 5.42am. “Julie Davison was to be murdered a short time later.”

At 10.02am he claimed Allen was seen cycling away with carrier bags on his handle bars which the prosecution would say contained “incriminating” evidence and was by now wearing her black Regatta jacket and white trainers.

The trial continues.