Couple murdered homeless woman and dumped body in bin to get benefit cash, court hears

13 November 2019, 13:44 | Updated: 13 November 2019, 14:48

A couple murdered a homeless woman and dumped her body in a bin so they could spend her benefit payments, a court has heard.

Kathleen Salmond and boyfriend Kevin Flanagan are accused of murdering Lisa Bennett at their flat in Birmingham in May 2013.

Ms Bennett's body has never been recovered and it is believed to have been incinerated at a waste facility, shortly after her 39th birthday.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court was told that the defendants "reaped the benefits of Lisa's disappearance".

Salmond - who is now "largely confined to a bed or wheelchair" - is said to have phoned the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and pretended to be Ms Bennett.

She asked for the missing woman's £230 benefit payments to be paid into her own account.

The prosecution said Flanagan had used Ms Bennett's phone to text her mother "to make her believe that nothing had happened and Lisa was alive".

The couple "calmly" told police that Ms Bennett was "alive and well" and had asked them to transfer her benefits into Salmond's account, the court heard.

The couple allegedly told officers that Ms Bennett's new boyfriend would collect it every week for her - a boyfriend that the prosecution said did not exist.

Ms Bennett was a drug and alcohol addict, the jury was told, and was not seen again after collecting a prescribed substitute for heroin from a pharmacy.

Both Salmond and Flanagan deny murder.

Salmond, who appeared in the courtroom via video link from a bed, also denies benefit fraud between 8-31 May 2013, and preventing Ms Bennett's burial - charges which Flanagan has previously admitted.

Prosecutor Simon Denison QC said: "On Thursday 9 May 2013, Lisa Bennett collected her daily Subutex prescription from the pharmacy in Selly Oak.

"She was never seen or heard from again by anyone who cared for her - her mother, who was in regular contact with her, her friends, support workers, her doctor, the pharmacy. She vanished."

He added that the defendants withdrew Ms Benett's benefit money to spend it on themselves.

Mr Denison continued: "Lisa died in their flat on or around May 9 2013. Her body has never been found. She has no grave.

"The prosecution case is that the defendants murdered her, and then callously disposed of her body in the communal bins opposite their flat, where it lay undiscovered before the bins were emptied and the contents were taken to the council waste disposal facility a few days later.

"There, her body was incinerated with the community's waste."

The trial continues.