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Handyman admits bludgeoning pensioner to death in her Romford home

Rosina Coleman Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The body of 85-year-old Rosina Coleman was found at her home in Romford

A handyman has been jailed for life after he admitted bludgeoning an 85-year-old woman to death with a hammer.

Rosina Coleman was killed at her home in Ashmour Gardens, Romford, east London, on 15 May.

Convicted burglar Paul Prause, who had racked up huge debts through gambling, stole a £7,000 ring from his victim.

The 65-year-old, of Romford, pleaded guilty to Ms Coleman's murder and was jailed at the Old Bailey for a minimum of 22 years.

Prause initially told detectives he had found Mrs Coleman's body when he arrived at her house, but was challenged over his account in police interviews.

He had attempted to stage the scene of a burglary by carrying out an "untidy search" of her bedroom.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Paul Prause, 65, was jailed for a minimum of 22 years

He then told officers he went round for a cup of tea but was sworn at by the pensioner as he left, so he hit her round the head with a hammer.

He had felt rage and could not stop himself, and continued hitting her until she was dead, he told police.

After giving at least two false accounts to police, the defendant accepted responsibility for inflicting the fatal injuries.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said: "He said that he had been under pressure for some time and if it had not been Rosie that day someone else 'would have got it'."

When Prause's home in Romford was searched, a white gold diamond ring solitaire twist was found on top of a brick inside the garage.

The ring, belonging to Mrs Coleman, had a retail value of up to £7,000.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Paul Prause bought latex gloves at a DIY store in east London as he sought to cover up the murder

Mrs Coleman had lived on the street for decades with her husband Bill, who died about 11 years ago.

In a victim impact statement, Mrs Coleman's daughter, Sharon Thomas, said her life had been "devastated" by her mum's "violent death".

She said: "This would not have been the same if mum had died from natural causes, a heart attack. I know that because my dad died instantly."

Outside court, Ms Thomas said her mother had lived her life "to the full".

She said: "We as a family have been robbed of our queen. We feel robbed through mindless greed."

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The hammer which inflicted the injuries was recovered from the River Rom

Prause had previous convictions between 1966 and 1994 for theft, burglary and taking a vehicle without consent, the court heard.

Det Ch Insp Paul Considine said: "Prause pretended he had just come across this terrible crime when in reality he was Rose's attacker.

"He lied to officers until the evidence caught him out and he was forced to admit he had hit her repeatedly with a hammer."

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Rosina Coleman's £7,000 wedding ring was found in Paul Prause's shed

CCTV revealed Prause's car had been in Ashmour Gardens three times during the morning of Mrs Coleman's death.

Detectives discovered he had been in nearby Chadwell Heath fixing a washing machine between 08:30 and 09:00 BST.

After completing the job, Prause had visited a DIY store in Romford at 09:05 to buy a packet of latex gloves.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption A finger from a latex glove was later found caught in the door handle of a wardrobe in Mrs Coleman's bedroom

A blood-stained piece of glove was later submitted for DNA testing and produced two profiles - one belonged to Mrs Coleman and the second was found to be a match for Prause.

A search of Prause's car found the opened packet of latex gloves, with two missing.

When sentencing Prause, Judge Philip Katz QC described the wounds inflicted on Mrs Coleman as "sickening".

He told Prause: "Your attack with a hammer was brutal and sustained long enough for her to have defensive wounds.

"Her terror can only be imagined. There were at least 11 blows with severe force."

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