Homeless man murdered widow, 83, who had taken him
Homeless man who killed 83-year-old widow who had taken him in then threw her body on a bonfire after the terrified pensioner called police is found guilty of murder
- Patricia Holland, 83, was murdered by Alan Scott, 42, a homeless drifter
- Mrs Holland helped Scott, but he turned on her when she asked him to leave
A homeless man who killed a ‘kind-hearted’ widow and threw her body on a bonfire in her back garden after she had taken him in was convicted of murder yesterday.
Frail Patricia Holland, 83, took pity on those who were ‘down on their luck’ and offered a room to Allan Scott.
The drifter turned on her when she asked him to leave because of his aggressive and controlling behaviour.
But after calling the police and asking him to leave, he was seen returning to her home 17 minutes after officers had left.
Scott, 42, killed the pensioner and burned her body at her detached house in Gorleston, Norfolk, as part of a plan to avoid being evicted, the court heard.
Patricia Holland, 83,(pictured) was the victim of Allan Scott, 42, who yesterday was convicted of murder at Norwich Crown Court
Allan Scott, 43, (pictured) was convicted of murdering 83-year-old Patricia Holland yesterday
A jury took just two hours to convict him unanimously yesterday following a four-week trial.
Opening the case last month, prosecutor David Spens KC told Norwich Crown Court: ‘Mrs Holland wanted him out of her home. Mr Scott, however, was determined to stay and his best chance of being able to stay in her house was if she went missing.
‘This was because if she died, according to the terms of her will, he would no longer be able to stay. He would be liable for eviction.
‘The prosecution case is that he violently attacked her on July 24 into July 25, 2021, and burned her body on a bonfire in her back garden in an attempt to destroy all traces of her.
‘He did that, we say, so that he could pretend she had gone missing, knowing full well that the little that remained of her after the fire he had set lay buried in her back garden.’
Mrs Holland, whose husband, George, died in 1994, had two sons who had died in 2016 and 2019 and a daughter who lived nearby.
‘Friends describe Mrs Holland as having a heart of gold and always happy. Neighbours describe her as a lovely, kind-hearted woman,’ said Mr Spens, who added she was frail, prone to falls and used a walking frame but had no underlying illness.
Police bodycam footage taken on the night Mrs Holland called police to her address and told officers she wanted him out after throwing pasta and pots at her
Footage shows Scott leaving Ms Holland’s property on July 24, 2021
The keen gardener who attended local church social clubs was a ‘charitable woman concerned with people who were down on their luck and the homeless’.
Scott had moved into her home by March 2020 but she began to feel intimidated by his behaviour.
‘Before long, he started acting aggressively towards her,’ said Mr Spens.
‘Often he was the worse for drink. On occasions he became violent towards her and he became controlling of her.’
Shockingly, it is not clear if great-grandmother Mrs Holland was dead before her body was thrown on the bonfire.
‘When the police found her burnt and charred body, there was so little of it left it wasn’t possible to discover the cause of her death,’ the prosecutor added.
‘Although it’s likely she was already dead when he threw her on the bonfire – one would hope she was already dead – the available evidence doesn’t show whether she was indeed dead when he did throw her.
‘Either way, the result is the same – the prosecution case is that he murdered her.’
Scott fuelled the fire with a piano from his victim’s home and raked it in an attempt to sift out any remnants belonging to Mrs Holland.
A police van outside Mrs Holland’s home in Gorleston, Norfolk
But Dr Gaille McKinnon, a world-renowned forensic anthropologist and archaeologist, told the court 27 bone fragments were found after excavations of the ‘fire pit’, including parts of the skull, pelvis and ribs.
The intense heat meant it was impossible to identify the victim’s age and sex but the remains were eventually identified as being those of Mrs Holland following DNA analysis from a single bone fragment.
The tragic pensioner had become increasingly desperate about her situation and police were called to her house on July 24 after Scott threw pasta and pots at her.
In footage caught on the officers’ bodycams, she told them she wanted him ‘out’ and was ‘going to get him out’.
‘I was going to say “You’ve got two weeks and you were going to be my witness,’ she told them.
Allan Scott was convicted of murder after a four-week trial at Norwich Crown Court (general view)
When officers spoke to Scott, who appeared to be drunk and was watching television, he directed them to a three-year agreement to stay at the property which was ‘pinned to the piano’.
He told them: ‘I’m not moving out, there’s no crime been committed.’
Police secured the address and left at 10pm leaving Patricia safe and well.
Local CCTV later showed Scott walking back towards the address around 17 minutes after officers had left.
Scott admitted unlawfully preventing a burial before the trial but denied murder.
Prior to the case starting, Judge Alice Robinson informed the jury that the defendant had been ‘involved with mental health services for many years’ and had a personality disorder.
But she added he had been assessed as fit for trial and they should not form judgements about his behaviour in the dock, which might at times seem ‘unusual’.
Scott was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on May 26.
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