Susan Warne went gambling just hours after murdering her uncle in Leiston, court told

Susan Warne and the scene at Grimsey Road

Susan Warne and the scene at Grimsey Road - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk woman who murdered her uncle while in the grips of a “fierce” gambling addiction will have to serve at least 19 years of a life sentence.

Susan Warne, of Valley Road, Leiston, admitted killing 80-year-old John Proctor when she appeared at her plea hearing at Ipswich Crown Court on October 16.

Mr Proctor was discovered at the foot of the stairs at his home in Grimsey Road, Leiston, on June 15. A post mortem showed he had died from compression of the neck two days earlier.

Ipswich Crown Court heard today that Warne, 41, had a severe gambling habit and had become addicted to playing bingo on the Sun newspaper’s online bingo site.

The mother-of-two, who appeared at court via a video link from Peterborough prison, had gone to Mr Proctor’s home on June 13 and told him that her husband had kicked her out and she needed a place to stay, knowing that her uncle kept money in his house.

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After he showed her to her room, Warne pushed Mr Proctor down the stairs before strangling him with a curtain cord, the court heard.

She stabbed him in one side of the neck with a knife she found in the home, and then stabbed him again in the other side of the neck to stop him from making “stupid” gurgling noises.

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Warne then stole around £300 from her uncle and later deposited the money to her account in three separate transactions.

The court heard that Warne went gambling in an amusement arcade in Lowestoft just hours after her uncle’s murder and then had dinner with her husband and son.

Initial enquiries by detectives investigating the death quickly identified Susan Warne as a suspect and she was arrested on June 16. She was then charged with murder three days later.

The court heard that Warne had left a suicide note for her husband and children after the discovery of Mr Proctor’s body, writing that she “never meant what had happened”.

Steven Dyble, defending, said this showed “considerable remorse” and demonstrated that Warne “didn’t want to come to terms with the enormity of the act she had committed”.

The court was also told that Warne had stolen £940 in cash from her father Norman Thompson during a burglary on May 1 and attempted to mug a 90-year-old woman in Walberswick three days before murdering her uncle.

Judge David Goodin gave Warne a minimum term prison sentence of 24 years, reduced by four years for her guilty plea.

Warne has already spent 147 says in custody. She will therefore have to spend 19 years and 218 days in prison before she will be eligible to apply for release on licence.

Judge Goodin said this was a “double tragedy” for the family.

He added: “You were quite clearly in the grip of a fierce gambling compulsion. That compulsion and addiction had been with you certainly since the end of 2013, perhaps a year or more before that.

“As a woman of good character, never previously offended, married with children, and like your husband working for your living, the affect of your weakness upon you must have distressing to the extreme.”

The family have released the following statement through Suffolk Constabulary: “The last five months has been a very traumatic time for us all. Finding out that a member of your family has been murdered is something you never think you will have to cope with in your lifetime, but then finding out it is a close member of your own family that is responsible is an unbearable situation to deal with.

“John was a well-known character, who could always make you laugh with his unique sense of humour. He was also a very loving and kind uncle who was always there for us.

“It has been difficult for our family to hear rumours that he was in some way responsible for what happened to him. John’s death was a tragic result of what a gambling addiction can do to a person and the devastation it causes the people around them.

“We find it very sad that Susan was unable to talk to us about her gambling addiction or seek help. We believe gambling is a taboo subject and needs more awareness and help for those whose gambling may be effecting their lives.”

To get help for a gambling addiction, call GamCare on 0808 8020 133.

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