Beds, Herts & Bucks

Houghton Regis sex assault victim 'destroyed' by attack

Winifred Smith
Image caption Winifred Smith crawled to her phone to call police

A sex assault by a man with a history of attacks on elderly women left one victim "destroyed", an inquest heard.

Winifred Smith died nine days after Darren Emmerson forced his way into her Bedfordshire home and attacked her.

Her sister Betty Cook, told Ampthill Coroners Court that before the attack Mrs Smith had been very ill but she was "destroyed" by what happened.

In a narrative verdict, coroner Tom Osborne said Mrs Smith died from acute coronary failure.

After his arrest at a residential home Emmerson, 40, who has Asperger's Syndrome, admitted attacking Mrs Smith and was detained in a secure hospital in August, under section 37 of the Mental Health Act.

'Personable and social'

Coroner Mr Osborne told the court the assault at her Houghton Regis home, had rendered Mrs Smith immobile.

He told the family: "I accept Winnie was never the same person after the attack and her condition deteriorated significantly later.

"But she was terminally ill with bowel cancer that had spread to her liver.

"The cause of her death was acute coronary failure."

Mrs Smith was one of four sisters and three were at the coroners' court.

Mrs Cook, speaking for them, said "Winnie was very personable and sociable and nearly always happy.

"We were all very close as a family and despite her illness she maintained her independence but the attack had destroyed her."

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