Widower, 75, killed ‘by drug addicts’ after ‘meeting woman through lonely hearts column’

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John Cornish, 75, was allegedly killed by Hannah Day, 29, who he is said to have met through the local newspaper advert, and Aaron Brown, 39.

John Cornish, 75, was feeling “lonely and vulnerable” after the death of his wife in 2002, and the end of another long-term relationship in 2012.

Mr Cornish, who had run a seaside bed and breakfast with his wife until her death, put an advert into the local paper in a bid to find a new companion, his daughter told a judge.

Winchester Crown Court heard he met Hannah Day, 29, in 2015 and died of a cardiac arrest on September 6 last year, after an “assault” at his home.

Day is now on trial accused of killing Mr Cornish along with Aaron Brown, 39 and the court heard the pair blame each other for his death.

Matthew Jewell QC, prosecuting, said Mr Cornish died shortly after being prodded with a knife, beaten and possibly strangled.

It is alleged that Day, of no fixed address, and Brown, from Weymouth, caused 42 injuries to Mr Cornish, including a fractured larynx, bruises and knife wounds to his body and his face.

Mr Jewell said: “Both defendants were drug users at the time which is no doubt why they wanted to steal from Mr Cornish.

“Both accept violence was used to take cash but they blame each other.”

Mr Brown, of Lennox Street, Weymouth, called an ambulance which could not locate the victim after being given an incorrect address, the court heard.

The pair then spent the night at the house before Ms Day again raised the alarm and Mr Cornish’s body was found, some 12 hours after the attack, Mr Jewell said.

Mr Cornish’s daughter Beverley told Winchester Crown Court: “He explained Hannah’s difficult situation and he felt sorry for her and he said that she was just a young woman that needed some support. I did not necessarily agree with that, I saw danger and I told him so.

“I did have concerns that he was being taken advantage of. She would come and make him a cup of tea. He thought he was being useful by giving her a bed for the night or giving her some money for the bus to see her parents.

“I thought that was ok, but I was a bit worried.”

Jurors heard that during the summer of 2019, Ms Cornish saw a change in her father’s demeanour and had become extremely concerned.

Ms Cornish described how when she visited her father at his retirement home in Weymouth, Dorset, his phone had been ringing constantly.

Her father described an occasion where he had come downstairs in the morning to find Day asleep in his house, she having “carded” his front door to gain access without his permission, Ms Cornish told the jury.

Ms Cornish said: “He felt pressurised to give her money. There had been threats and arguments as to what he could and could not give her.

“He told me that he was very concerned because she was part of a violent group of people.

“He said that he was quite fearful about opening the door, there had been incidents when Hannah, she had repeatedly asked for money and he felt like a prisoner in his own home.”

The court heard that Mr Cornish had reported Ms Day to police in 2016 for “using his bank card to steal £21,000”.

Ms Day, of no fixed address, said she had taken £32,000 with his permission and was not prosecuted, Mr Jewell said.

In May 2019, Ms Day used Mr Cornish’s bank card to make five small purchases, the jury was told.

Day and Brown both deny manslaughter and attempted robbery.

The trial continues.