Man who murdered his landlady in 'frenzied attack' in Lewes is jailed

  • Watch a video report by ITV News Meridian reporter Charlotte Wilkins about the man jailed for murdering a vulnerable woman in West Sussex.

A man who brutally murdered a mother from Lewes before dumping her body in a wheelie bin has been jailed. Following a two-week trial at Hove Crown Court, Richard Canlin has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for killing his landlady Nicola Stevenson.

Canlin killed Nicola in a brutal attack. She had allowed him to stay at her address, and when she asked him to leave he took advantage of her kindness, and attacked her about the head with a hammer, killing her in her own home. Unbelievably, he then carried on as if nothing had happened...spending her money on things for himself, living in her property and telling friends she had gone away.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Friday of the Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team

The 42-year-old had been living as a lodger with Ms Stevenson at her flat in Stansfield Road in Lewes.

But, in October last year, he hit her with a claw hammer in a 'frenzied attack'.

Nicola’s body was discovered on November 13, 2019 in a wheelie bin, in shrubbery, on the edge of the Landport Recreation ground on the Landport estate in Lewes. She had suffered extensive head injuries. 

Canlin, seen here in the grey tracksuit, being led from a prison van.

Police launched a murder investigation, and through extensive enquiries identified that she was killed more than a month earlier during the afternoon October 10.

It is believed her body had been at the recreation ground since that time, which had gone undiscovered, including during a large public gathering for the annual Lewes Bonfire and fireworks display.

The trial heard how Ms Stevenson, who had a spine defect and used a mobility scooter, had tried to contact police to tell them Canlin had become abusive, but had received no answer.

Nicola sent two emails to a Sussex Police Officer regarding concerns with Canlin. The officer was not on duty at the time of the emails being sent and they not read until the officer returned to work five days later. On the same day of the emails being sent, Nicola dialled 101 but she terminated the phone call after about 90 seconds and was not connected to a call handler in this time.

Police Statement on 101 and email

He will serve 21 years and 31 days from today, to take into account the time he has already served, before he is considered for parole. 

The parents of Nicola Stevenson have said: "We wish to thank Sussex Police and their colleagues in the forensic services for all their hard work and painstaking investigations which allowed the Crown Prosecution Service to bring forward a successful prosecution and provide justice for Nicola.  

"We are also very grateful for all the support provided by the Police and, of course, by all our family and friends throughout a long and difficult year since Nicola’s death."