Son who killed mum with hammer ‘called her Brexit-voting halfwit’

A psychologist who killed his mother in a hammer attack described her as a "Brexit-voting halfwit", a court has heard.

Robert Child, 37, admits the murder of his mum Janice, who was found locked in the utility room of her Kings Drive home in Woolton, on March 6, but denies he killed her for financial gain.

A trial of issue at Liverpool Crown Court heard Child transferred £25,000 to his bank account from hers moments after leaving her home on March 5, and when police went to inform him of her death the following morning he was out buying a £14,000 Jaguar car.

Giving evidence via video-link, Child's friend Philip Walker, who worked with him at the University of Liverpool, said he had the impression Child did not get on with his mum.

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He said in February Child forwarded him a message sent by Mrs Child in which she suggested he stockpile food because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The court heard Child then referred to his mum as "the Brexit-voting halfwit."

The scene in Kings Drive, Woolton

Mr Walker, who shared an interest in cryptocurrency with the defendant, said: "He was against Brexit."

Mrs Child was found with 31 wounds, believed to have been caused by a hammer and another weapon, after neighbours on Kings Drive contacted police when they were alerted by her dachshund Alfie barking in the early hours of the morning.

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The court has heard Child claimed to be a doctor, despite not having completed a PhD, and told friends he worked as an analyst for Manchester United.

PC Nicola Ireland told the court Child asked "is this a dream?" when he was arrested on suspicion of his mother's murder at the home he shared with his partner Kelly Williams in Thingwall, Wirral, on March 6.

She said: "He immediately began to shake, displaying signs of being extremely anxious."

She said on their way to the police station, Child said: "I only wanted to show her my new car."

She added: "I took her to mean Janice, he didn't specifically say her name."

He told her his mother had "cut him out of her life" for a period of time because she did not approve of his previous partner due to the "colour of her skin" – but they had since reconciled, the court heard.

In evidence from financial investigator Adrian McGrath, the court heard Child was more than £32,000 in debt at the time of his mother's death.

He also had two county court judgements against him for £16,000, Mr McGrath said.

He said Child did have a joint savings account with his mother which had more than £14,000 in, enough to cover the cost of the Jaguar, and would have been able to access it without his mother's signature.

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But, the court heard, a passbook was needed to credit or debit the account and only one was issued.

Police at the scene in Kings Drive, Woolton.

Child, who admitted manslaughter, denied murder and was set to go on trial at Liverpool Crown Court last week.

In extraordinary scenes, he suddenly decided to change his plea to guilty, while the last member of a jury was still being sworn in.

However, his barrister, John Jones, QC, said Child still denied the prosecution assertion that it was a murder for financial gain.

This is being now determined in a Newton Hearing – a form of mini-trial where a judge establishes any disputed facts of a case.

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The outcome could potentially make a huge difference to Child's sentence, because the usual starting point for murder is life with a minimum of 15 years in prison, while the starting point in a murder for gain is 30 years behind bars.

On the morning of the tragic discovery, officers searched the Woolton property and found entered a door under the stairs leading to a utility room and found the body of Mrs Child.

She was lying on her front, wearing an outdoor fleece jacket, and had sustained a large wound to her scalp, with blood covering the floor around her head.

The walls, ceiling, skirting boards and worktops had all been spattered with blood.

The prosecution said the forensic examination revealed that Mrs Child was struck when she was upright and also when she was low down or lying on the floor.

The pathologist who carried out the post-mortem concluded that she suffered a total of 31 wounds, probably involving more than one weapon.

Mrs Child sustained widespread blunt force injuries to her head and face consistent with blows from a hammer.

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