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Appeal denied for man who raped and murdered neighbour

Darren England/AAP PHOTOS

A man who raped and murdered his elderly neighbour while filming some of his crimes has been denied leave to appeal his conviction, despite claiming an unnamed burglar was responsible.

Frederick Ronald Sinfield, then aged 64, was jailed for life in October 2019 after a Queensland jury found him guilty of murdering Norma Ludlam, 75, in her Hervey Bay home in July 2015.

Ms Ludlam died in hospital from significant head and neck injuries and a resulting infection, after Sinfield claimed to have found her injured and called paramedics.

An autopsy determined Ms Ludlam was struck in the head with a blunt object with enough force to penetrate her skull by a person intending to cause her at least grievous bodily harm.

The Brisbane Court of Appeal on Tuesday denied Sinfield leave to appeal his conviction, finding there was no significant possibility that he had been convicted as an innocent man.

Justice Soraya Ryan said there was some potential evidence to suggest another person's involvement, but it "did not reach beyond the level of conjecture".

A police search of Sinfield's home in 2015 revealed bloodstained clothing, including a hoodie jumper hidden at the bottom of a box of dolls, and footage of Ms Ludlam on a digital camera.

Ms Ludlam's DNA was also found under Sinfield's fingernails, and evidence suggested he had deleted records from mobile phones belonging to himself and the victim related to their previous conversations.

Sinfield pleaded guilty to rape and breach of privacy charges, but denied killing Ms Ludlam.

The jury was told Sinfield had financial difficulties and was trying to become Ms Ludlam's new paid carer, but something happened in her bedroom on the day he was due to attend her home and give her a massage.

"He had something to hide, and there was a deliberate course of conduct around that," the prosecutor said.

Sinfield's defence claimed Ms Ludlam could have been killed by a burglar who had previously cut through fly screens at nearby properties to gain access to houses and steal alcohol.

The defence pointed out that Ms Ludlam's house had its fly screen cut at the time of her death and there were signs that her belongings had been searched and her opiate painkillers had been taken.

"Unfortunately ... this intruder, looking for her medications, has entered the house, and there is a confrontation," Sinfield's barrister said.

Justice Ryan said that despite the case against Sinfield being circumstantial and it being in his best interests to keep Ms Ludlam alive, the jury's verdict was not unreasonable.

"Viewed as a whole, the evidence supported only one reasonable inference, namely, that it was (Sinfield) who killed the deceased," she said.