North East Wales

Woman choked to death 'to stop her identifying burglars'

Glynis Solmaz
Image caption Glynis Solmaz was the victim of a criminal team 'from first to last', the court heard

A woman was choked to death to because she may have been able to identify one of her burglars, a trial has heard.

Glynis Solmaz, 65, was killed in the bedroom of her Wrexham home, Mold Crown Court heard.

Alexandros Wetherill, 24, of Wrexham and Christopher Curran, 34, of Brymbo, Wrexham, deny murder but Mr Wetherill admits manslaughter.

Both have admitted conspiracy to burgle with Christopher Natt, 52, Mrs Solmaz' ex-son-in-law, and David Lovell, 29.

Simon Medland QC, opening the case for the prosecution, said that Natt, of Ponciau, Wrexham, had previously lived in the same house and had installed a safe in his ex-mother-in-law's bedroom wall.

It was his idea to rob his ex-mother-in-law as she believed she was wealthy with cash, jewels and possessions.

The court heard Mrs Solmaz had inherited between £30,000 and £50,000 from several legacies which on the town's Caia Park estate where she lived would have led to her being considered wealthy by some friends and family.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Wetherill went beyond the plan merely to steal from Mrs Solmaz and Mr Curran did nothing to stop him.

The court heard Mr Wetherill has been unable to remove the safe when he went to house on his own on 18 February this year.

Mr Medland said: "He was determined to get the safe. He tried to do so while struggling with Mrs Solmaz but could not get it off the wall."

Mr Curran went to the house to help, the court was told.

"Wetherill, a physically fit and strong young man, had already restrained Mrs Solmaz by choking her around the neck with his arm and she was already down on the floor," said Mr Medland.

"Wetherill had his foot on her head restraining her further. Curran did nothing to help Mrs Solmaz.

"In that small room in that small house he can't have failed to know what was happening to her."

'Criminal team'

Mr Curran has reason to suspect he might be recognised, the court heard, as he was long standing acquaintance of Mrs Solmaz.

Mr Medland added: "In any event, Curran at least ran the risk of her recognising him and being a dangerous witness against him and the remaining defendants.

"That the fatal injuries to Mrs Solmaz were caused by Wetherill alone does not in any way effect the culpability of Curran for the murder.

"Here were two men, part of a criminal team of burglars, involved directly in the crime.

"One directly physically assaulted her and the other did nothing to stop the assault, failed to alert the authorities, both men realising that the necessity of dealing with a householder was 'an occupational hazard' of the determined burglar."

Mr Medland said Mrs Solmaz's family had expressed concern about some of the company she was keeping.

He said: "She certainly spent her money freely, perhaps too freely. She bought a lot of items, she went out a great deal, she drank perhaps more than was good for her, and she kept company which, some of her family thought, were not really good for her.

'Mechanical asphyxiation'

"Perhaps they were right. But whatever the correctness of their view that she was spending too much, and drinking and partying too much or keeping questionable company, one thing is certain in this case - she was from first to last the victim.

"She was the victim first of a coolly planned and executed burglary and then, when she got in the way of that plan, the victim of murder."

A post mortem examination showed the cause of death as mechanical asphyxiation consistent with "significant and prolonged" pressure to the neck, the court heard.

The trial, before Mr Justice John Griffith-Williams, is expected to last nearly two weeks.