‘I didn’t kill Gertrude’ Norwich crown court jury told over death of Walpole St Andrew grandmother

Norwich Court
Norwich Court

A man accused of killing a West Norfolk grandmother by her relatives has told a jury he had nothing to do with her death.

Seven people have gone on trial accused of kidnapping, assaulting and blackmailing a couple they believed were responsible for the death of Gertrude Frankham in December 2012.

Tests which were carried out after her body was exhumed from a Wisbech cemetery last year showed that Mrs Frankham, 75, had died from natural causes.

But a jury at Norwich Crown Court has been told that a man and his pregnant partner, who both cannot be named for legal reasons, were separately kidnapped, taken to an outbuilding and beaten over her death.

During her ordeal, it is alleged that the woman was recorded admitting that her partner had both killed and stolen from Mrs Frankham.

But, when asked by prosecutor John Farmer if he had been involved in her death, the man said yesterday afternoon: “Definitely not, 100 per cent.”

He confirmed he had known Mrs Frankham, but insisted that he had not seen her for several days prior to her death.

The seven standing trial, who deny all of the charges against them, include Vanessa Frankham, 48, of Wisbech Road, Walpole St Andrew, who is accused of kidnap, blackmail, false imprisonment and robbery.

Violet Chilton, 57, of Dades Lane, Wisbech, is charged with blackmail, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.

Edward Dolan, 18, of Flower Farm Bungalow, Walpole, is charged with kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.

The same allegations have been brought against Thomas Chilton, 29 and Jason Chilton, 27, of Dades Lane, Wisbech.

Meanwhile, Diane Evans, 18, of Cherry Road, Wisbech, is charged with false imprisonment, while a 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is charged with kidnap, false imprisonment and wounding with intent.

As he outlined the prosecution’s case on Friday, Mr Farmer said the woman had also been threatened with further attacks if she did not hand over £1,000.

And the man told the court that on April 17 last year, the day before the attack on him is alleged to have taken place, he had been asked to go to Mrs Frankham’s former home in Walpole St Andrew because members of her family wanted to see him.

The case, which continues today, was delayed for several hours on Monday morning when lawyers joined their counterparts across the country in staging a half-day walkout in protest over government plans to reform legal aid provision.

Barristers and some solicitors staged the demonstration against proposals, which they claim will cut legal aid fees by 17 per cent.

Ministers claim the country’s legal aid system is among the most expensive in the world.

But Simon Spence QC, chairman of the East Anglian Bar Mess and spokesman for the Criminal Bar Association, said the cuts would make it “impossible for anyone to make a proper living”.

He said the protest was not just about finances and insisted they were trying to put across an important message.