Page last updated at 17:16 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Cleaner 'murdered widow in bed'

Joyce Cregeen [pic: Surrey Police]
Joyce Cregeen died in her home from multiple stab wounds

A cleaner murdered an 81-year-old widow she once worked for in a "bloody and gruesome" knife attack after stealing nearly £500 from her, a jury has heard.

Joyce Cregeen was stabbed 25 times and was found covered in blood at her house in Epsom, Surrey, by her hairdresser.

Nicola Bushnell, who was in financial trouble, is alleged to have killed Mrs Cregeen with her own kitchen knife.

The 44-year-old, of Middleton Road, Epsom, denies murdering the retired police administrator in May last year.

Anthony Glass QC, prosecuting, told the Old Bailey Ms Bushnell began by using Mrs Creegan's bank card to withdraw small sums totalling about £60 from her account.

Thefts of money by the defendant played an absolutely integral part in the story behind Joyce's murder
Anthony Glass QC

On 14 May, Ms Bushnell withdrew £250 from a cash machine and £150 from her pension account.

But later that night Mrs Cregeen apparently rang and left her a 31-second message after discovering the earlier thefts of small amounts, jurors were told.

Mr Glass said the call "must have been about these thefts" and alerted Ms Bushnell that the pensioner was bound to find out about the larger amounts.

"By the following morning, Joyce was dead," he said.

"Thefts of money by the defendant played an absolutely integral part in the story behind Joyce's murder."

He said Mrs Cregeen, who had lived alone since the death of her husband Arthur in 1997, was "by all accounts quite a formidable lady".

'Covered in blood'

Her body was found when hairdresser Pearl Stephenson let herself in with a key. She had arrived to find Mrs Cregeen's curtains still drawn at 1140 BST.

"She saw Joyce, lying across the bed with her feet dangling over the side that was nearest to the window," Mr Glass told the court.

"A pillow covered half her face. Her body and arms were covered in blood."

Police found there had been no forced entry to the house, and there was no evidence of its having been searched, Mr Glass said.

A post-mortem examination showed that Mrs Cregeen had suffered multiple stab wounds, mostly to the right side of the chest and stomach and the right arm.

The cause of death was given as shock and haemorrhage caused by multiple stab wounds.

A knife with traces of the victim's blood and DNA on it and from the same designer as others kept in a block in Mrs Cregeen's kitchen, was found in bushes half way between the murder scene and the defendant's home, jurors were told.

The trial continues.



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