Langwith Junction murder trial: Friend describes moment she found Freda Walker's body

Kenneth Walker and Freda Walker were attacked at their home in Shirebrook.

The friend of an elderly woman allegedly murdered by a robber during a break-in has described the moment she found her body.

Judith Casey was giving evidence at the trial of Vasile Culea, who is charged with the murder of 86-year-old Freda Walker and the attempted murder of her husband, Ken, at their home in Langwith Junction, Shirebrook, Derbyshire.

On the third day of the trial at Derby Crown Court, Ms Casey told the jury she had known the couple for about 40 years.

She described how she visited their home on Station Road on the morning of 15 January after concerns were raised for their wellbeing.

She said: "I knocked on the front door and there was no answer, so I pulled the newspaper from the letterbox and went down the track at the side of the house.

"I went to the back gate and clicked the latch which opened straight away, I opened the back door and said 'it's only me' thinking they would be having a cup of tea. I went straight into the kitchen, looked to my right and saw Freda face down on the floor.

Police investigate the murder of Freda Walker. Credit: Ashley Kirk

"She had a bag tied around her head and there was blood on the floor near her face. I said 'oh my God' and went into the dining room and saw Ken's face sticking out from under the table.

"I left the house, I saw a woman with a dog and said to her 'have you got a phone?' and she said 'yes' and so I used it to ring 999."

The prosecution claims Culea, 34, planned to carry out a robbery after finding out Mr Walker, 88, had withdrawn £30,000 in cash to keep in the house for home improvements.

He allegedly carried out "reconnaissance missions" on the home before the raid.

CCTV footage shown to the jury showed his movements in the hours before Mr and Mrs Walker died, including a visit to a betting shop in Shirebrook.

The jury has already heard the couple suffered "frankly horrific" injuries following a "savage and sustained" attack. Mrs Walker was dead when Ms Casey arrived. She had been "hog-tied" by her wrists and right ankle, with a pillow case and a black bin-liner over her head.

A post-mortem examination revealed she suffered multiple blunt force injuries. 

Mr Walker suffered life-threatening injuries but survived. He later died from unrelated causes.

Culea, of Grove Road, Church Warsop, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm, but denied Mrs Walker's murder and the attempted murder of Mr Walker.

The trial continues.

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