By Jemima Venturi, aged 9

Callous, crinkly killer ………

or calm, kindly Catholic?

As the trial begins of the elderly nun accused of murdering and dismembering a shop manager, before disposing of his body in her cavernous shopping trolley, I write an exclusive article based on first hand knowledge.

As a child, I lived in the same village as the accused. Here is my account:

In desperate need of a bar of chocolate one drizzly Saturday afternoon, I entered the village shop behind Sister Magdalena from St. Augusta’s Convent.

Snapping her head round as we went in , she looked me up and down swiftly with her rapid, darting eyes, just like a lizard assessing its prey. Her eyes were magnified by little round glasses and they seemed to bore right into me like laser beams.

Then her crinkly face, which resembled a soft, used tissue, relaxed into a gentle smile. “ Well hello there my dear!” she greeted me with her lilting Irish accent, and she patted my arm with her veiny, brown- spotted , claw-like hand.

Wisps of white hair peeped out from under her wimple and her skin looked powdery and pale.

She resembled a tiny bird as she pulled her giant

shopping bag on wheels up the aisle with quick steps, like a purposeful pigeon.

Watching her in fascination as she threw item after item into the voluminous bag, I followed her up and down the aisles. As we neared the till she turned and slipped a bar of chocolate into my pocket. “ A little present from me ,” she winked.

“Well hello there, my dear!” she greeted the assistant, “ Nothing for me today, thank you. I was just having a nice look round.”

Mesmerised, I followed her out of the shop.

I asked residents of the tiny village,

“Sinister shoplifter or serene saint?”

Mr. Patel of the greengrocer’s said, “ Well she was very well-known, always came in here to nick my apples and pears, but of course none of us dared challenge her. Then this new guy comes to work for the grocer's, jumped up young manager type.”

Curly from the hairdresser’s added, “ And he actually goes and accuses her of thieving a bag of sugar, and well, the rest is history. He was never seen again, and nor was Sister Magdalena’s giant shopping trolley. She had to order a new one from Mr. Nails at the hardware store.”

Taxi driver Tom Cruise told me, “ I thought it was a bit odd seeing the Sister up on the clifftop path dragging her massive trolley at midnight that night, but then she was always acting a bit weird anyway.”

Well, the jury’s out, or it will be soon. But what do you think?

Remembering the grip of her claw-like hand, I believe that, yes, she was strong enough to kill an unsuspecting victim.

But remembering the mesmerising twinkle in her eyes as she slipped the chocolate bar into my pocket, I know she didn’t do it.

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