Romford handyman jailed for murder

16 November 2018, 12:16 | Updated: 16 November 2018, 13:07

Murder victim Rosina Coleman

A debt-ridden handyman from Romford 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, 65, pleaded guilty to murdering former seamstress Rosina Coleman at her Romford home in May.

Judge Philip Katz QC jailed him for life with a minimum term of 22 years.

He described the wounds inflicted on the vulnerable victim 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."

The Old Bailey heard how Prause had worked for Mrs Coleman as a gardener for about six years.

On May 15, he donned latex gloves and battered her with a hammer in her bedroom before calling police, claiming he found the body when he arrived to mow the lawn.

He later admitted killing Mrs Coleman, claiming he acted out of anger at something she said.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said: "He said that he had been under pressure for some time and if it had not been Rosie that day someone else 'would have got it'."

He said the defendant had set about staging the scene of a burglary before police arrived.

The blood splattered bedroom was ransacked with 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."

The murder weapon was recovered from the River Rom, where Prause had thrown it after the killing.

When Prause's home in Romford was searched, a white gold diamond ring solitaire twist was found on top of a brick inside the garage.

The ring, belonging to Mrs Coleman, had a retail value of up to £7,000.

At the time of the killing, regular gambler Prause was in debt, the court heard.

Mrs Coleman was described as a "much-loved" mother, grandmother and great grandmother.