|Article taken from local newspaper dated October 1979, transcribed by Raylee Burton.
Frail widow Winnie Love would not have been brutally beaten and choked to death if she had stayed asleep as three raiders searched for her £3,000 life savings. But the 75-year old Mrs. Love challenged the men and started screaming, Mr Brian Escott-Cox, prosecuting, told Northampton Crown Court yesterday.
“They grabbed her and tied her up. It was a terrible, brutal assault. She was savagely gagged and left to die,” he said.
Mrs. Love, who suffered from a heart complaint, was found dead at her
Richard Gotts Gayle, one of the defendants, is alleged to have told police: “If she had not woken up she would have been all right.”
Norman Washington Barned(23), Gayle (17), both of Wrens Park House, Warwick Grove,
Barned had pleaded not guilty to robbing Mrs. Love of £1,685 on the same date but Gayle and Lewis have pleaded guilty to robbery.
Gayle and Lewis have also pleaded guilty to burgling the house. Barned has pleaded not guilty.
Earl Sebastian Savage (22), formerly of
Mr. Escott-Cox said the three defendants travelled to
“It is believed she had £3,000 at her house,” he said. “At about 10.30pm they broke in. They were disturbed and brutually attacked Mrs. Love.”
He said they gagged her and tied her up and left her up and left her on the floor of her unheated bedroom and left the back door open so that she would be discovered after they had gone.
Home Office pathologist Prof. Alan Usher said Mrs. Love, who was 5ft 2ins and weighed 7½ stone, probably died very shortly after being gagged.
“It is possible she suffered a nervous collapse. She died from asphyxia caused by the gagging. Her heart condition could have been a contributory factor. She was dead before 12pm.”
He said the gag was forced into her mouth and her tongue had been curled over making a greater obstruction to her respiratory tract.
His post mortem examination also revealed numerous cuts and bruises on her head. Her right cheek-bone had been broken and both her eyes had been blackened.
“Most of the bruising could have been caused by punches or slaps but the cheek fracture could have been caused by a kick.”
After the raid, Mr. Escott-Cox, said the defendants hitched a lift into
“It cost £30, but by then they were rich,” he said.
He added the defendants told police that each of them received £500 and around £200 was given to Savage.
All three defendants were arrested on February 21 and taken to
Mrs. Love was found by Meals on Wheels volunteer, Mr. Fred Pentelow.
“I walked into her bedroom and saw what I thought was a pile of bedclothes. I lifted up a pillow and saw her face,” he reported in a statement which was read to the court.
In another statement, taxi driver, Mr. Richard Burgess, of
“Two of them slept in the back and one sat in the front. When he talked he held his hand up to his face and it was difficult to hear him.”
When the taxi arrived in