Bilston Man In Court Accused Of Murdering Grandmother

10 October 2018, 16:24 | Updated: 10 October 2018, 16:31

Birmingham Crown Court

A cocaine user accused of murdering his grandmother in a brutal knife attack had built up a £35,000 gambling debt, a court has heard.

Gregory Irvin is alleged to have cut the throat of Anne James and stabbed her 30 times in the chest and back after approaching her from behind at her home in Walsall.

Irvin, of Bilboe Road, Bilston, denies murdering the 74-year-old victim in February - a week after her husband was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia.

Opening the Crown's case to a jury at Birmingham Crown Court, prosecutor Rachel Brand said Irvin was filmed by a council CCTV camera as he made his way towards Mrs James' home, and as he left 15 minutes later.

Describing Mrs James's movements on the day of her death, Ms Brand told the court: "By midday Anne James was at home. She was unpacking her shopping and was doing herself some soup for lunch.

"About half an hour later, she was lying dead in the pantry, just off her kitchen. She had been brutally killed.

"She had been stabbed over 30 times to her chest and her back, and her throat has been cut right across the front."

Ms Brand said Mrs James had trusted Irvin implicitly and always welcomed him into her home of almost 40 years in Doveridge Place, Highgate.

Suggesting jurors would have no difficulty in concluding that Irvin, of Bilboe Road, Bilston, was the killer, Ms Brand added: "When he was arrested and questioned he answered 'no comment' to all the questions the police put to him.

"Since then he has said to people that he had no memory of the events of the 28th February in his grandmother's house.

"So he doesn't admit it, but you will hear in due course that the evidence only points one way."

Addressing the possible reason for the alleged murder, Ms Brand added: "The defendant was a person who regularly requested money from other people - from his partner, and his parents and his grandmother.

"He wasn't working at the time and he certainly had a need for money as he was regularly using cocaine.

"In the past he had racked up very large debts in the region of £35,000 because he had a gambling problem."

Ms Brand said the prosecution could not say whether the defendant's gambling problems "were all in the past" but it was known that he had arranged to pay the debt off in instalments under an IVA.

Irvin is alleged to have removed a security camera and his grandmother's mobile phone from the house, and to have told a police officer the following day that he had not seen her on the day she died.

The camera - which could be monitored by using the mobile phone - had been installed by Irvin's father after money went missing from the house, the court heard.

The Crown alleges Mrs James was leaning forwards near storage boxes when she was attacked in the pantry of her home, leaving her blood on Irvin's jacket.

The jury panel was told it is likely to have to consider a partial defence of diminished responsibility based upon the defendant's mental state, which would reduce murder to the lesser offence of manslaughter.

A psychiatrist acting from the defence will argue Irvin was suffering from moderate depression and may have had an "intense, violent, autistic meltdown" which affected his judgment, the jury was told.

The trial continues on Thursday.