Man jailed for murder of frail pensioner he found in his bed

A “cowardly bully” has been jailed for life with a minimum of 14 years in prison for murdering a 71-year-old woman who mistook his home for a B&B and got into his bed.

Grandmother Margaret Barnes had been visiting Barmouth in Wales from her home in Birmingham when she mistook her accommodation for the home of David Redfern, a few doors away, Caernarfon Crown Court heard.

After Redfern, 46, and his partner discovered her when they went up to bed, a row broke out and Mrs Barnes, who had been drinking, was dragged by her heels down the stairs and flung out of the house.

Redfern also kicked or stamped on the frail pensioner, breaking three of her ribs and causing a catastrophic and unsurvivable injury to her liver.

The “much-loved” wife, mother and grandmother died on the pavement outside, the court heard.

David Redfern is a cowardly, vicious bully and will now spend at least 14 years behind bars where he can reflect on what he has done

Detective Superintendent Mark Pierce

Redfern denied murdering Mrs Barnes on July 11 last year but was convicted by a jury earlier this week.

Handing him a mandatory life sentence for murder with a minimum 14 years before parole, Mr Justice Charles Bourne told the defendant: “I accept you must have been very shocked to find a stranger in your house, your bedroom.

“But your reaction surpasses anything that any reasonable person could imagine.

“You are a large and strong man, aged 45 at the time.

“She was small and slight, at least 25 years older than you, clearly affected by alcohol and unsteady on her feet.

“I can understand why you might have escorted her out of your house, though a different person might have responded to this situation by trying to help her.

“But the assault, a kick or stamp of sufficient force to cause a fatal injury, was a dreadful thing to do, to a defenceless elderly person.”

Earlier, the court heard that arrangements had been made with a local B&B for Mrs Barnes to stay in Barmouth and she had been out drinking with friends and was unsteady on her feet.

She mistook her accommodation for Redfern’s home and went inside and got in bed at around 10.10pm on July 10 last year.

When Redfern and his partner went upstairs to bed, around 40 minutes later, Redfern at first calmly called police and asked officers to come and remove her.

But things then went “terribly wrong” after a row broke out, the court heard.

Redfern, a 6ft 1in man who weighed 21 stone, dragged the unwanted visitor downstairs by her heels and flung her suitcase into the street.

He also kicked or stamped on Mrs Barnes, causing the fatal injury.

Redfern told the jury he had found Mrs Barnes sitting up in their bed drinking gin and tonic with her false teeth on the bedside table.

Outside court, Detective Superintendent Mark Pierce of North Wales Police said: “During a two-week trial Redfern showed no remorse, attempted to blame Margaret for his actions and subjected her family to the trauma of a two-week trial where details of the event were explored in graphic detail.

“David Redfern is a cowardly, vicious bully and will now spend at least 14 years behind bars where he can reflect on what he has done.”

Mrs Barnes’ family added: “As a family it has been the hardest time of our lives.

“It has been especially difficult for Margaret’s husband who had been her partner for 56 years.

“We now have some sort of closure on what has happened however no length of sentence will ever fill the void that Margaret has left behind.”