Debt-ridden handyman jailed for hammer attack on 85-year-old woman

A debt-ridden handyman who bludgeoned an 85-year-old widow to death with a hammer and stole her £7,000 diamond ring has been jailed for life.

Convicted burglar Paul Prause attacked former seamstress Rosina Coleman at her home in Romford, east London, in May.

The Old Bailey heard how the 65-year-old had worked for Mrs Coleman as a gardener for about six years.

On 15 May, he wore latex gloves and battered her with a hammer in her bedroom before calling police and claiming to have found her body.

Prause, also from Romford, pleaded guilty to her murder.

Judge Philip Katz QC jailed him for life with a minimum term of 22 years and described Mrs Coleman’s injuries as “sickening”.

He told Prause: “Your attack with a hammer was brutal and sustained long enough for her to have defensive wounds.

“Her terror can only be imagined. There were at least 11 blows with severe force.”

A post-mortem examination found the great-grandmother died as the result of blunt force trauma.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said Prause had set about staging the scene of a burglary before police arrived.

He also said Prause “had been under pressure for some time and if it had not been Rosie that day someone else ‘would have got it’.”

The court also heard how an “untidy search” had been carried out in her bedroom – with blood splattered and drawers pulled out.

Mr Atkinson said: “Significantly, a valuable ring that he had taken from Mrs Coleman was recovered from his home, raising the possibility – given the financial debts under which he was labouring at the time – that there was a financial motivation for his actions leading up to the confrontation with Rosie Coleman in which he killed her.”

Prause was challenged about his initial account in police interviews.

He eventually admitted to officers that he had gone round for a cup of tea and as he was leaving Mrs Coleman told him to “grow up you f****** sod”.

He claimed the comment made him so angry that he hit her around the head with a hammer.

He told police he felt rage and could not stop himself and continued to hit her until she was dead.

Afterwards, he told police that he had staged the bedroom to make it look like a burglary.

Prause said he had hidden belongings in his house, including a diamond ring which was later found in a shed.

The defendant finally accepted responsibility for inflicting the fatal injuries after giving at least two false accounts to police.

The hammer which inflicted the injuries were recovered from the River Rom.

Prause had previous convictions between 1966 and 1994 for theft, burglary and taking a vehicle without consent.

Mrs Coleman, a “much-loved” mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, was described by her neighbours as “incredible” and someone who was “always happy”.



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