A 70-year-old Halifax man has gone on trial accused of brutally murdering an elderly spinster who was sexually assaulted and knifed in the throat during a “robbery” at her West Yorkshire home nearly 25 years ago.
A jury heard today (Tuesday) that the alleged killer Raymond Kay had been spoken to by the police during the initial investigation in the 1990s because a few months before Amy Shepherd’s death he had delivered “meals on wheels” to her as part of a community sentence order.
The spinster’s lifeless body was discovered at her sheltered housing flat back in August 1994 and today the prosecution alleged that there was “compelling scientific evidence” which had identified Kay, of Baker Fold, Halifax, as the man who murdered her.
The jury at Bradford Crown Court heard that the fiercely independent and house-proud pensioner was a popular figure in her local community and she was also “security conscious” when at her home in Folly Hall Gardens, Wibsey.
Prosecutor Richard Wright QC said a recent cataract operation meant Miss Shepherd had to have eye drops administered each day and the husband of the housing complex warden found her lying on her back in a pool of blood when he called round to assist her.
Mr Wright said the pensioner had suffered “terrible wounds” to her neck which her killer had inflicted with a serrated knife found at the scene.
“The wounds had been delivered as a final act in the culmination of a brutal assault during which she had been beaten, strangled with a ligature, and then had her throat cut,” said Mr Wright.
“During that fatal assault the evidence at the scene suggested that she had been sexually assaulted. A distinctive item of jewellery was amongst property missing from her home and it appears likely that her killer robbed her. Indeed that seems likely to have been the motive for the killing with the sexual assault as some sort of afterthought, perhaps brought on by his violent excitement as he attacked her.”
Mr Wright explained that over the intervening 25 years forensic scientists had developed new techniques which had been applied to items recovered from the scene of the murder.
“Amy’s wish that in death she should be regarded as having been clean and tidy may in fact prove to be a vital strand of evidence in trapping her killer 25 years on,” suggested Mr Wright.
He alleged that Kay’s DNA profile had been found on intimate samples taken from the victim’s body and also a tea towel which had been used a ligature.
“The care with which she kept herself and her flat means that you can, we suggest, rule out any innocent explanation for those findings,” said Mr Wright.
“His profile is there, represented across those four areas, because he is her killer.”
He said there was no sign of a forced entry into the flat and that suggested that Miss Shepherd must have chosen to open the door to whoever killed her shortly after she returned from a shopping trip.
“That in turn suggests that despite her fear of intruders she felt safe and secure in letting this person into her him,” said Mr Wright.
He revealed that Miss Shepherd had relied, from time to time, on the “meals on wheels” service to deliver food to her home.
“She could not have known that her use of that service, a service that she would obviously trust and allow into her home, would introduce her to her killer,” said Mr Wright.
In his statement back in 1994 Kay, who denies the murder charge, said he had no further contact with with Miss Shepherd after he finished his community service in June or July and he said he did not know where he was at the time of the killing.
The trial is expected to last about three weeks.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest news and breaking incidents in Halifax - join our dedicated Facebook group here.