Page last updated at 18:50 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 19:50 UK

Burglar cleared of woman's murder

Ada Hopkinson did not fully regain consciousness following the attack

A burglar who attacked a 94-year-old woman has been cleared of her murder.

Stafford Crown Court heard that Ada Hopkinson never fully regained consciousness after the 2005 assault and died in hospital in 2008 aged 97.

Benjamin Brough, 21, of Leek, was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent in May 2006 and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The judge ordered his acquittal after hearing evidence from medical experts, as well as Mrs Hopkinson's daughter.

Brough was convicted in May 2006 for attacking Mrs Hopkinson at her home.

'Cannot forgive'

Speaking after the case her daughter, Pat Davis, said she understood the dilemma that the medical experts and the judge had faced.

She added she could not forgive Brough.

"I am a Christian and here I am saying I cannot begin to forgive and I can't," she said.

The Crown Prosecution Service said after Brough's acquittal it had sought to establish whether it was possible to prove the cause of her death was "directly attributable to the defendant and his actions".

Neither family should have been in this position - I'm grateful my prayers have been answered
Carol Brough, defendant's mother

Acting Chief Crown Prosecutor Keith Prosser said: "During the trial process this evidence has been tested and sufficient doubts have been raised for the judge to order an acquittal."

After the case, Brough's mother said it had been the "right outcome".

Reading her statement, Carol Brough said: "I'm numb and my heart goes out to Ada Hopkinson's family for the traumatic time they have suffered.

"It has been a horrendous four and a half years. This is the right outcome. It's been a nightmare of a journey to get here.

"Neither family should have been in this position. I'm grateful my prayers have been answered."

Ada Hopkinson after the attack
Photos of Ada Hopkinson's injuries were shown to the court

Staffordshire Police said the decision of the court was a disappointment to Mrs Hopkinson's family.

In a statement, the force praised Pat and Keith Davis, Mrs Hopkinson's daughter and son-in-law.

"Our condolences go to Pat and Keith Davis who had to endure the pain and heartache of seeing Ada go from being an independent healthy woman to being unconscious in hospital for the last three years of her life."

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