December 12 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
“Moderate” force was used to strangle a Suffolk mother of five whose partially clothed body was found at the rear of a pub, a court has heard.
Home Office pathologist Dr Nathaniel Carey told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that a post-mortem examination had revealed that 49-year-old Mary Roberts suffered bruising to the muscles of her neck and fractures to small bones in her throat around her voicebox in the attack which resulted in her death.
Giving evidence on the second day of the trial of Andrew Ratcliffe, who has denied murdering Mrs Roberts, Dr Carey said “moderate force” would have been required to cause that level of injury. “There was no extreme force which would have resulted in more extensive fracturing of the voicebox,” he said.
Dr Carey said the compression injuries to Mrs Roberts’ neck, which resulted in her death could have been caused by an arm or elbow lock or as a result of a hand or hands squeezing her neck.
He told the court he had found evidence of coronary artery disease which meant that Mrs Roberts would have been vulnerable to sudden death as a result of the rhythm of her heart being disturbed during strangulation.
Dr Carey said the fact that Mrs Roberts’ clothing was in disarray when her body was found suggested she had been strangled during a sexual assault.
It has been alleged that Mrs Roberts was strangled on March 27 this year after she resisted the advances of Ratcliffe who was described as being “sexually obsessed” with her.
In the weeks before her death Ratcliffe had allegedly plied Mrs Roberts with chocolates and alcohol and she had made it clear she did not want a relationship with him.
When 56-year-old Ratcliffe was arrested after the discovery of Mrs Roberts’ partially-clothed body in a covered smoking area at the back of St Edmunds Tavern in Bury he had a pair of her knickers and a ring she always wore in his coat pocket, said Andrew Jackson, prosecuting.
On the evening of her death Mrs Roberts had been out drinking with Ratcliffe and witnesses allegedly saw him take advantage of her inebriated state by touching her in a sexual way.
After Ratcliffe’s arrest, blood on his fingernails was found to have Mrs Roberts’ DNA in it and his DNA was found on both her left breast and the waistband of her knickers, said Mr Jackson.
He told the court that Ratcliffe claimed he had woken up in the smoking area and had not seen Mrs Roberts’ body.
Mr Jackson claimed that Ratcliffe had been “sexually obsessed” with Mrs Roberts and had allegedly sexually assaulted her and murdered her after she resisted his advances.
The court heard that Mrs Roberts was an alcoholic and had suffered from depression following a serious accident in 2001.
At the time of her death she had been staying at a friend’s flat in Petch Close and Ratcliffe had also been staying athere after being made homeless.
The trial, which is expected to last a week, continues today.