- Susan Hawkey, 71, was allegedly murdered by Chelsea Grant and Xyaire Howard
A grieving pensioner was stripped and murdered in her own home by a young couple, who left her body to decompose while they went on a ‘massive spending spree’, a court heard.
Susan Hawkey, a 71-year-old who lived alone, was described as ‘highly vulnerable’ when she was fatally attacked last September.
Prosecutors said Chelsea Grant, 28, and boyfriend Xyaire Howard, 23, ‘preyed’ on their slightly built victim, who was ‘struggling to cope’ following the death of her parents and a partner.
Police found her body after friends reported that Miss Hawkey – who was found with her lower clothing removed, and her T-shirt slashed – had not been seen for weeks.
The suspects are alleged to have blindfolded, tied and murdered Miss Hawkey in her home, before stealing her bank cards and PIN and frittering away £13,000 of her money during a three-week spending spree.
Susan Hawkey (pictured), a 71-year-old who lived alone, was described as ‘highly vulnerable’ when she was attacked in her own home
Prosecutors said Chelsea Grant, 28, (pictured) and her partner ‘preyed’ on their slightly built victim, who was ‘struggling to cope’ after the death of her parents and partner
Opening the trial at the Old Bailey today, prosecutor Annabel Darlow KC said: ‘The prosecution say she was strangled during an attack motivated purely by greed and self-interest.’
She added: ‘Miss Hawkey had been tied up, with both her hands tied together, her eyes had been taped shut and a ligature knotted around her neck.
‘Her body was found under a duvet and had been decomposing for some time after her death.
‘(The suspects) were boyfriend and girlfriend and lived in a flat a short walk away from Miss Hawkey.
‘At some stage during the summer of 2022, they had clearly spotted Miss Hawkey and recognised in her an ideal victim.’
The court heard the pair mugged her twice on the street, and then used her stolen keys to enter her home in Neasden, north west London, within the space of a few weeks, to take her card, making a small number of transactions.
Xyaire Howard, 23, (pictured) and Grant are alleged to have blindfolded, tied and strangled Miss Hawkey last September, before stealing her bank cards and frittering away £13,000 of her money during a three-week spree
The suspects lived a short walk away from Miss Hawkey in Neasden, north-west London, adding they had ‘recognised in her an ideal victim’
Jurors were told ‘feisty’ Miss Hawkey cancelled her stolen card each time, and threatened to ‘thrash them’ with a hammer if they broke into her home again.
But, shortly after, the pair are alleged to have returned, extracting the PIN to her bank card which Miss Hawkey had ‘committed to memory’.
Ms Darlow said it was ‘only if she was the victim of considerable violence and aggression that she would hand over’ the four-digit number.
The court heard the pair made nearly 150 transactions, with the vast majority of Miss Hawkey’s savings ‘burnt away’ in three weeks.
The couple are alleged to have bought ‘luxury’ items including watches, a new television and speakers, with money spent on brands including John Lewis, Michael Kors and Puma, the court heard.
Grant is alleged to have conducted internet searches about body composition, while Howard is said to have researched transaction limits.
Miss Hawkey’s bank card was finally stopped on September 28 – around three weeks after she was last seen alive – at the request of police, and the defendants were arrested.
The couple, also from Neasden, have denied murder and robbery charges, although Howard has admitted a single charge of robbery.
The trial is expected to last for up to five weeks.
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