A convicted double-killer released into the community on licence bludgeoned his elderly next-door neighbour to death with a coffee table, a murder trial jury has heard.
Lawrence Bierton, 63, who denies the 2021 murder of Pauline Quinn, 73, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, was sentenced to life at Sheffield Crown Court in 1996 for the murders of two elderly sisters.
Jurors at Nottingham Crown Court were told Bierton was first released on licence in 2017 but was recalled to prison in 2018 for “repeated failures to address his behaviour” and drug and alcohol misuse.
He was then released again on licence in May 2020 and, “following concerns about his association with certain individuals”, was offered a bungalow next door to Mrs Quinn’s rented council property in Rayton Spur, Worksop, in November 2020.
A so-called “alcohol tag” to monitor Bierton was then removed eight months before Mrs Quinn’s death, after he complained of swelling in his legs, prosecutor John Cammegh KC told the jury on Tuesday.
At the start of his opening speech, Mr Cammegh said: “The Crown’s case is that shortly after four o’clock on the afternoon of Tuesday November 9, 2021, the defendant Lawrence Bierton murdered an elderly lady named Pauline Quinn in her home.
“Our case is that the violent manner of Pauline’s death leaves no room for doubt that he intended to kill her.
“What is unusual about this case is that the defendant admits that he killed the deceased.
“What he did is not in issue. The issue for you to decide will be whether or not he was of diminished responsibility at the time.”
Saying that jurors may feel distressed at the evidence and urging them not to let emotion cloud their judgment, Mr Cammegh said blood staining on the ceiling and walls at the home of Mrs Quinn and skull and facial fractures proved the “visceral” nature of the attack on her.
During his opening, Mr Cammegh showed the jury a three-dimensional model of a skull recreating the injuries Mrs Quinn suffered, alleged to be the result of at least ten impacts to the head and four to the rest of the body.
Explaining Bierton’s background, Mr Cammegh told the jury: “He was first convicted as a juvenile and offended repeatedly until 1996, when he was convicted of the double murder of two elderly sisters at Sheffield Crown Court.
“He was initially released on licence in December 2017 but after repeated failures to address his behaviour was recalled [to prison] in July 2018.
“He was released again in May 2020 to approved premises. Following concerns about his association with certain individuals he left those premises in November 2020 and was offered a bungalow at 33 Rayton Spur.”
CCTV evidence presented to the jury showed Mrs Quinn, who walked with a stick and suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, returning to her home in her car at about 12.55pm on the day of her death.
Prosecutors allege she was killed shortly after 4pm on November 9, when she pulled an emergency cord installed in her home.
Mr Cammegh said of a recording of the “lifeline” activation, in which banging could be heard: “This, we say, is when Lawrence Bierton murdered Pauline Quinn in her sitting room by striking her repeatedly about the head and about the face with a wooden coffee table.”
Suspect was ‘sober and calm’
CCTV showing Bierton, who initially drove off in his victim’s car, walking in the area was evidence that he appeared to be steady, purposeful, sober, calm and collected in the period after the killing, Mr Cammegh said.
Bierton is alleged to have removed the remnants of the bloodstained coffee table from Mrs Quinn’s home in a carrier bag.
He is then said to have driven in her Renault Clio to a male relative’s property in Sheffield, arriving at around 10pm on November 9.
The court was told the relative, who knew nothing about Mrs Quinn’s death, was given a lift to work in Barnsley by Bierton the following morning.
When he was arrested by South Yorkshire Police at a Texaco filling station at 10.37am on November 10, the court heard Bierton told the relative: “You’re not going to like this... I’ve f****** killed somebody.”
Police bodycam footage of the arrest was shown to the jury, which heard Bierton was taken to Sheffield’s Shepcote Lane custody suite.
While at the police station, the jury was told, Bierton informed a nurse he was alcohol-dependent and that he had smoked crack cocaine and consumed two bottles of rum on the day of the alleged murder.
In initial police interviews he offered no comment and denied wrongdoing, but later made “various admissions” about hitting the victim with a table to “keep her quiet”.
The trial is expected to hear evidence from two psychiatrists next week, Mr Cammegh said.
Bierton denies murder but has admitted a charge of theft.