Tees

Norma Bell murder accused 'phoned sex chat line'

Norma Bell Image copyright Family photograph
Image caption Grandmother Norma Bell had also fostered more than 50 children

A man strangled a foster carer with an electrical cable, used her phone to ring a sex chat line, then set her house on fire, a court has been told.

The body of Norma Bell, 79, was found in the burned out property in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, in April.

Gareth Dack is on trial at Teesside Crown Court accused of murder and an offence of arson being reckless as to endanger life.

The 33-year-old, of Windermere Road, Hartlepool, denies all charges.

'Scantily-clad ladies'

The prosecution claims Mr Dack was a drug user who had borrowed £10 from the widow a week before her death.

His DNA was found on a spent match on a gas hob and on a ligature around her neck.

Jurors were told after he killed her, he used her phone to call a soft-porn channel to speak to "scantily-clad ladies".

It was also alleged he stole £700 from his elderly victim and sold her TV.

The court heard Mrs Bell and her husband fostered more than 50 babies and toddlers during a 35-year period and had three children of their own.

The trial continues.

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