Patrick Curran found guilty of Joan Roddam murder

Patrick Curran (left), murderer of Joan Roddam (right). Pic: Devon and Cornwall Police Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Patrick Curran (left) was charged with Joan Roddam's murder after new forensic testing

A man has been found guilty of murdering an elderly neighbour in his village in Cornwall 11 years ago.

Patrick Curran strangled 74-year-old widow Joan Roddam at her home in Delabole in November 2003 when aged 27.

Truro Crown Court heard Curran, 38, had a sexual interest in much older women and Mrs Roddam may have been killed after she rebuffed sexual advances.

He was arrested at the time but was not charged until 2014 as a result of new forensic evidence.

Unusual sexual interest

Curran, of West Down Road, Delabole, wrapped the body in a blanket and tried to hide it under a wheelbarrow in a field, the court heard.

He was described in a court as a loner who had an unusual sexual interest in older women, and who lived less than a mile (1.6km) from his victim.

After his initial arrest, police found he visited pornographic websites on his computer featuring women in their 70s and older.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Patrick Curran lived less than one mile away from Joan Roddam
Image caption Joan Roddam was killed at her home in Delabole

Several days before the murder, he had also visited a doctor complaining of a very high libido, the court heard.

Officers also discovered he had burned clothes, as well as a computer hard disk drive, in a fire in his parents' garden. However, at the time they did not believe they had enough forensic evidence to place him at the scene.

Ten years later, police began a cold case review and officers were eventually able to match fibres found in Mrs Roddam's house to his clothes.

DNA found on the blanket Curran used to wrap around Mrs Roddam's body linked him to the scene, with forensics experts saying the chances of it not being Curran's were "a billion to one", the trial heard.

Proving the guilt of the pensioner porn-obsessed neighbour - by Chris Ellis, BBC News

Patrick Curran lived less than a mile from his victim's home and could see her bungalow from his bedroom window.

The-then 27-year-old, who had reported a raised libido to his doctor, was found by police to have pornography featuring women in their 70s and 80s on his computer.

Curran was a suspect from early on in the investigation but it took more than 10 years to finally secure a conviction.

Advances in technology played their part, with scientists confirming a tiny sample of DNA, found on the blood-stained blanket Joan Roddam's body was wrapped in, was almost certainly Curran's.

Officers also found clothing fibres belonging to Curran where the body was dumped.

During the review in 2013, further fibres from a jumper and fleece coat, found on the blanket and Mrs Roddam's dressing gown, were linked to Curran.

Police found that he had previously worn the jumper and fleece, with the clothes he wore to the murder scene.

After he killed the pensioner he built a large fire in his parents' back garden and burned his clothes and a hard drive.

Officers later found a Levi's stud at the site of the fire, with the manufacturer confirming it was only used on newer clothing models, proving he was not burning rags or rubbish, said police.

A combination of circumstantial, forensic and fibre evidence eventually led to his conviction.

Det Insp Stuart Ellis, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said the community had had to live for 11 years "with this tragedy and all its consequences".

He said: "I hope that the conviction of Patrick Curran now will, in some way, bring comfort and reassurance to all those who have been affected."

In a statement, Mrs Roddam's family said she was murdered by "somebody that she knew and trusted" and they were "pleased" at the verdict.

She "did not deserve to die in these circumstances", they added.

Curran, who was tried in his absence, is due to be sentenced later in the month.

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