Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Nurse denies murdering her mother

A nurse killed her mother by hitting her over the head with an ornamental shire horse, a court has heard.

Jennifer Shelton, 56, is accused of fatally injuring her mother Bertha Martin, 84, at her home in Cleadon, near Sunderland, in June last year.

Mrs Martin, who had leukaemia, died of a brain haemorrhage a week later at South Tyneside General Hospital.

Ms Shelton, also of Woodlands Road, Sunderland, denied murder at Newcastle Crown Court.

A post-mortem examination showed Mrs Martin had sustained an injury "with a very specific pattern" on the right side of her head.

Broken leg

The bruising was consistent with the shape of the back hoof of the ceramic horse, the court heard.

The broken leg of the horse was later found by police hidden inside a sewing basket in the house Ms Shelton had shared with her mother.

Alistair MacDonald, prosecuting said: "Bertha Martin was killed by the consequences of a blow to the head delivered by her daughter Jennifer Shelton.

"The blow was made with a weapon in the form of a pottery foal or a horse. The nature of the injury is in keeping with forceful contact having been made with the underside of the horse and Mrs Martin's head."

Ms Shelton collapsed in the dock as the case against her was read out.

Mr MacDonald said a note was later found in the family home simply reading: "Dear Mam, forgive me."

The trial continues.

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