Belfast Telegraph

Man accused of murdering Belfast pensioner 'has string of violent convictions'

A man accused of murdering a pensioner in her own home 25 years ago has a string of convictions for violent crime, a jury heard today.

Prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy outlined to the Belfast Crown Court jury of eight men and four women that on dates between March 1982 and June 2009, 52-year-old Samuel Dunwoody has convictions for assault, causing actual bodily harm and battery including attacking the same woman three times.

He also recounted that during a relationship with Kathleen Dunwoody between 1979 and 1984, "the accused, on occasions, struck her".

In another incident in September 1985, the lawyer told the jury how Dunwoody "grabbed a woman by the throat with one hand and put his other hand over her mouth" and that after he left her house, she found that her purse had been stolen.

Dunwoody, originally from north Belfast but with an address in Birmingham is on trial accused of murdering 68-year-old Margaret Telford in her Twaddell Avenue home in north Belfast in February 1988.

The case was reopened in 2011 after a PSNI Serious Crime Review Team 'scoping exercise' threw up fresh forensic evidence which led to officers travelling to Birmingham to arrest Dunwoody at his High Tower home, in the Aston area of the city.

His DNA, the jury heard, was found under the fingernails of the murdered Mrs Telford.

It is the Crown case that while Dunwoody was on parole release from prison, the pensioner caught him searching for money so he hit her, causing her to fall and hit her head before jumping or leaning on her prone body and using a ligature to strangle her.

The jury have been shown a harrowing video taken by police at the time which showed the murdered pensioner lying on the livingroom floor of her home.

Dunwoody's motivation for killing Mrs Telford, the Crown claim, was that "he did this to stop her calling the police."

Following the end of the prosecution case today, defence QC Terence McDonald told the court that Dunwoody would not be giving evidence on his own behalf and confirmed with trial judge, the Deputy Recorder of Belfast Judge Corinne Philpott QC that Dunwoody had been advised that the jury "may draw such inferences as appear proper from his failure to do so".

When arrested and questioned by police Dunwoody claimed he had been at the house in February to ask Mrs Telford for money but as she was coming down the stairs, she fell and injured herself.

Dunwoody further claimed he had "tried to give her the kiss of life" but had not been able to revive her.

Sending the jury home for the weekend, Judge Philpott told them they would hear closing speeches from prosecution and defence lawyers on Monday before she directs them on the law but warned them "not to be making up your minds about anything until you have heard absolutely everything".

The trial continues.

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