A PENSIONER suffered 42 external injuries, including being ‘prodded’ in his face with a sharp instrument or knife, when he was assaulted in his Weymouth home before dying of a heart attack, a jury in a manslaughter trial was told.
A man and woman accused of his manslaughter are then alleged to have stayed in his home overnight with his body inside.
Aaron Kirk Brown, 38, and from Weymouth, and 28-year-old Hannah Jayne Rebecca Day, of no fixed abode, are on trial accused of the manslaughter and attempted robbery of 75-year-old John Cornish.
Opening the case for the prosecution at Winchester Crown Court, prosecutor Matthew Jewell QC told the jury how Mr Cornish died on the evening of September 6, 2019 at his home on The Esplanade and that it is believed both defendants were present in the house at the time of his death.
He said that Mr Cornish died from cardiac arrest caused by an assault. He described 42 external injuries to Mr Cornish’s body, including bruising to his arms, torso, head and face. There was also bruising to his neck, as well as fractures to his larynx and a bone in the neck area.
Mr Jewell said this suggested “a compression or a blow to that area of the body,” and that “significant force was used to cause these injuries”.
He added: “Before he died a sharp object, a knife or something similar with a point, had been used to prod and poke at his face and left shoulder.
“We suggest force was being used to provoke him to reveal the location of his bank card and PIN number.
“Both defendants at the time were drug users, which no doubt is why they wanted to steal from Mr Cornish.”
Mr Jewell told the jury that Brown called for an ambulance from a phone box on St Mary Street, reporting a man who was having a heart attack, but he gave the wrong address a few doors along on The Esplanade.
Mr Jewell said the pair were seen on CCTV but they did not help the ambulance find the correct address. The ambulance left, and the pair spent the night in Mr Cornish’s house with the body still inside.
The next morning, Day told a passer-by to call an ambulance and Mr Cornish was pronounced dead by paramedics. The pair have since blamed each other for Mr Cornish’s death in police interviews.
Day is also facing a charge of theft and four counts of fraud by false misrepresentation. It is alleged she stole Mr Cornish’s bank card in May 2019 before using it on four occasions without his permission.
Both Day and Brown have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
THE DAUGHTER of Mr Cornish, Beverley Cornish, told jurors that Day had made her father feel like “a prisoner in his own home”.
She explained how her parents had moved to Weymouth to retire about 25 years ago and often rented out rooms of their home as a bed and breakfast. However, following his wife’s death in 2002 and the ending of a subsequent relationship in 2012, Miss Cornish said her father had become “vulnerable and lonely”.
Miss Cornish said her father first met Day around 2015 and he would occasionally allow her to sleep in his house. She said: “He felt sorry for her. He said she was just a young woman who needed support. I didn’t agree. I saw danger.”
By the summer of 2019, Miss Cornish said she was “extremely concerned” for her father. She said: “I had seen a distinct change in his whole demeanour. He told me he felt pressured to give her money, there had been some threats and arguments.”
She told the court about one occasion where Day had broken into her father’s flat by ‘carding’ the door. During a visit to her father, Miss Cornish noticed that he was not leaving house and was scared to answer the phone. She said: “He told me he felt like a prisoner in his own home.”
Miss Cornish described visiting her father’s home following his death and finding it was “completely different”. She said there was a strong smell of tobacco, cigarette butts and drug paraphernalia littered on the floor, used needles in one of the bedrooms and furniture moved around or broken.
The trial continues.