Teresa Wishart: Rapist and killer of 80-year-old grandmother jailed

Image source, Merseyside Police
Image caption,
Charles Stapleton raped and killed his elderly neighbour before stealing her jewellery

A burglar who raped and murdered an 80-year-old woman at her Merseyside home has been jailed for 31 years.

Charles Stapleton, 51, previously admitted murdering his neighbour Teresa Wishart, who was was found dead at her home in Kirkby on 19 October.

Stapleton, of Watts Close, Kirkby, had also admitted stealing Mrs Wishart's jewellery but denied rape.

However, he changed his plea to guilty ahead of his scheduled trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Mrs Wishart, a grandmother of 11, was found dead by her youngest daughter when she dropped by to take her shopping.

She had lived at her home in Changford Road since 1967 and was described by a neighbour as "very lovely, like the mother of the street".

The court heard Stapleton was a drug addict who took heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis and spice. He had 108 previous convictions.

He lived in a house that backed onto Mrs Wishart's and had befriended her in the months before the murder, doing odd jobs for her.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Teresa Wishart was found with head injuries at her home

He had been seen acting suspiciously and was "stumbling about" near Mrs Wishart's home on the night of her death, the court heard.

After leaving the great-grandmother with severe blunt-force head injuries and ransacking her home, he stole the wedding ring which Mrs Wishart had not removed for 60 years.

He pawned the ring and other jewellery the day after he attacked her for £110.

He was jailed for life with a minimum of 31 years for the murder of Mrs Wishart, as well as six years for burglary and 12 years for rape to run concurrently with the life sentence.

'Heart of gold'

Judge Clement Goldstone QC said that as well as violently attacking her, it was "beyond belief of any right-thinking human being" that Stapleton went on to rape her.

Mrs Wishart's eldest daughter Lesley said a "monster" had denied her mother a dignified death.

Her family said in a statement after sentencing that they would "never forgive Stapleton for his brutal and despicable acts".

"For our mum to be attacked in what should be the safe haven of her home is something that we still struggle to comprehend.

"Our mum had a heart of gold and had given that man odd jobs to do days before he chose to enter our mum's home and savagely attack her, then ransack her beautiful home."

Angela Rowan, senior crown prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, described the murder as a "terrible, terrible crime" and said the the fact that he raped her was "utterly, utterly appalling".

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