Foster mother murdered for money

A MAN from Suffolk murdered his foster mother and her adopted daughter with the help of his wife in a botched life insurance scam, a court heard yesterday .

A MAN from Suffolk murdered his foster mother and her adopted daughter with the help of his wife in a botched life insurance scam, a court heard yesterday .

Iris Jones, 78, and her adopted daughter, Mandy Joseph, 34, were found dead at the house they shared in Hockliffe, Bedfordshire, on February 20 this year.

Michael Millcroft, 46, and his wife Anita Mansfield, 36, appeared at Luton Crown Court yesterday accused of their murder. The couple deny the charges.

A teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also appeared in court accused of the killings. He has also pleaded not guilty to murdering the pair.

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Millcroft and Mansfield previously lived in Gibson Drive, Leighton Buzzard, but were arrested at their new home at Black Dam Cottages, Beccles.

Prosecuting, Rosamund Horwood-Smart, QC, told the jury: "That evening as a result of a 999 call officers went to the house.

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"They found Iris crumpled in front of her kitchen sink and Mandy in the sitting room next door.

"Both of them had been shot several times - Iris twice, Mandy four times. Some of the shots had immediate contact with the brain."

Miss Horwood-Smart told the jury the defendants had only intended to kill Mandy so they could make a claim against her life insurance policies.

"The plan was always that Mandy should be killed,' the lawyer said. "Iris was killed because she was there.'

Millcroft and Mansfield both lived off benefits - but wanted to move to a £750,000 house in Suffolk, the court heard.

Miss Horwood-Smart told the jury of five women and seven men: "The motive was money. The defendant hoped to cash in on life insurance policies in the name of Mandy Joseph.

"They planned to live in a beautiful new home in Suffolk, where they would live under a new name.

"This idea to live in a lovely house was not a fantasy. They had carefully planned the death of Mandy.

"They had then carefully thought out how they were going to kill her.

"She was expendable, as was Iris, who had cared for Michael since he was a tiny baby.'

Millcroft had been a long-term foster child of Iris Jones since the age of 10 days old. She had cared for some 120 children in all, including the other alleged victim.

When Mandy Joseph was a child, the court was told, Millcroft was like "an older brother' to her.

She worked at a local residential home for the elderly at the time of her death but also cared for her foster mother, who had become frail and suffered from a number of illnesses.

Millcroft and Mansfield duped Mandy, the court heard, by convincing her to take medicals. The procedures, the alleged victim thought, were so she could become legal guardian of the couple's children if Mansfield, herself in poor health, died.

It is claimed Mandy was, in fact, unknowingly contributing to two false insurance policies in her name worth £800,000.

The policies were incomplete on the night of the killings, the court heard.

But Miss Horwood-Smart told the jury: "At the time of the murders, the defendants would have believed that there were in force two policies to the tune of £800,000 a figure that neatly covers the amount of the house, the fees of the lawyer for conveyancing and perhaps a little left for redecoration.'

The three defendants were arrested by police the day after the murders. The gun used in the killings was found in the boot of their car, the court was told.

The trial was adjourned until today.

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