Glastonbury murder trial: Landlady stabbed lodger when she 'feared for her life'

Dawn Lewis in court
Dawn Lewis at Bristol Crown Court

The landlady accused of murdering her lodger has described how she stabbed him when she ‘feared for her life.’

Dawn Lewis, 53, denies the murder of 61-year-old Glenn Richards at her home in Glastonbury on Easter Monday this year.

Miss Lewis said she knew Mr Richards – a former Metropolitan Police sergeant - had admitted the manslaughter of his wife in 2002. He spent a decade in prison and they had become friends when they met when he was a manager in a charity shop after his release.

He moved into her house last Autumn.

Miss Lewis described their relationship as cordial and even ‘flirtatious,’ even though she is a lesbian and ‘was not interested’ in him sexually.

But their relationship frayed as he lived with her, she said. She found him looking at her in the shower once, and caught him wearing her underwear another time, she told Bristol Crown Court.

Miss Lewis said she became increasingly worried about her safety when he started talking about the killing of his wife.

"He had started talking in a different manner about the killing. He started fantasising about how he would do it differently. He would just come out with it," she said.

Dawn Lewis was arrested at her home Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

Miss Lewis said she started carrying a knife for her own protection. "I was terrified he was going to jump out and stab me," she said.

By Easter weekend, Miss Lewis was imploring Mr Richards to leave, even transferring £500 to his account as a deposit he could use on a new flat. On Monday 18th, she visited her friends and told them about his criminal history – which they didn’t know.

She returned to her home. She said she heard him pacing upstairs.

"Then the pacing stopped and there was an almighty bang, a thud. It vibrated through the ceiling. I thought I’d given him a heart attack and I had pushed it too far. I had mentioned probation and police."

Miss Lewis said she went upstairs and tried the door, which was locked. There was no reply, so she pushed the door through.

"He was stood there. I expected to see him on the floor. He was right in front of me by the kitchen area. I shouted at him ‘I thought you were dead.’ He was just staring at me. I said ‘I’m calling the police.’"

"I tried to leave. That’s when he lunged at me and I saw he had a knife. I grabbed his arm. Then I bit him, he dropped the knife. I felt he was going to kill me."

Miss Lewis said she stabbed him at this point.

The couple fell into the corner.

"He fell back and said ‘I’m bleeding.’ I tried to get up and he had the knife, I don’t know how he had the knife. I was trying to get away. I got up and I ran. He had the knife and was trying to stab me again."

Miss Lewis said she made it to the top of the stairs when she realised she was locked in the house and couldn’t find her keys.

"He was behind me. We struggled at the top of the stairs and he slipped down. I was trying to get him off. I didn’t fall. He had the knife. He slipped on the steps and he bumped down.

"I pushed him with my foot. He fell down the stairs to the bottom.

"I felt, shock, horror, I wanted him to break a leg. I wanted him away. I thought he was going to hurt me."

Miss Lewis described seeing Mr Richards lying at the bottom of the stairs: 'He was conscious, he had the knife in his hand. Then he slouched and the knife dropped to his side.

'He cried 'help me.'

I turned and looked at him and I leaned over and he grabbed my ankle and I fell on my knees. He went for the knife but didn’t get it. I grabbed it and stabbed him.'

Miss Lewis called 999 and was instructed how to perform CPR on Mr Richards.

The court previously heard how Mr Richards suffered five large stab wounds, two of which were 'not survivable.' She suffered three cuts to her thigh.

Earlier, Miss Lewis claimed she thought Mr Richards had been drinking and not taking his medication. But in a list of agreed facts, the court heard there was no alcohol but traces of Lithium in Mr Richards' system.

Miss Lewis denies murder. The trial continues.