Angela Wrightson trial: Murder accused 'tried to start fire in victim's home'

Angela Wrightson Image copyright Cleveland Police/PA
Image caption Angela Wrightson suffered extensive head injuries

Two girls accused of battering a vulnerable woman to death also tried to start a fire in her home, a court has heard.

Angela Wrightson, 39, was found in her blood-spattered living room in Hartlepool in December 2014.

Photographs of the crime scene and of a variety of weapons allegedly used by the girls, then aged 13 and 14, were shown to Leeds Crown Court.

The girls, who cannot be named because of their age, deny murder.

The older girl has admitted manslaughter.

Forensic expert Dr Gemma Escott told the court that pages from a diary had been set alight in the property and scorch marks were found on Ms Wrightson's clothes.

Dr Escott, who specialises in blood spatter analysis, said Ms Wrightson had been attacked at least five times on one sofa.

She was found the next morning on a second sofa, which Dr Escott said had blood staining which indicated she had been positioned there after she died.

'103 wounds'

Ms Wrightson was naked from the waist down and grit and shards of glass had been scattered over her, jurors heard.

Dr Escott said tracksuit bottoms found next to Ms Wrightson had been "pulled off her in one movement", and "were so blood soaked" there was only a small patch of fabric left clear enough to attempt to find evidence.

"A basic attempt was made to start a fire after the deceased was positioned on the sofa," she said.

Earlier, Home Office pathologist Dr Mark Egan told the court that items including a metal pan, two broken glass vases and a wooden stick with protruding screws "were compatible" with Ms Wrightson's many injuries.

She suffered "a bare minimum" of 103 cuts and bruises, including 15 slash wounds to her head.

He said there were three possible causes of death - loss of blood, a head injury, or asphyxiation. He could not tell which of those was the case, he said.

Ms Wrightson had high levels of alcohol in her blood when she died which could have contributed to her injuries, Dr Egan said.

"It would have made her more susceptible to falling or impaired her coordination. It can also worsen the impact of a blow to the head, but I would rule out any suggestion the level of blood alcohol was a fatal one," he added.

The case, scheduled to last for five weeks, continues.

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