Woman jailed for murdering her half-sister - Letchworth

21/12/2016

A woman appeared at Luton Crown Court today, Wednesday, 21 December 2016, and was jailed for life and is to serve a minimum of 20 years for murdering her half-sister in Letchworth last May.

Yvonne Caylor, aged 53, of Grove Road, Hitchin, was sentenced today after being found guilty of the murder on Monday, 19 December 2016, following a three-week trial.

On Monday, 23 May 2016, Caylor disguised herself by wearing a ginger beard, wig, glasses and a high-vis jacket, used the tradesman's entrance to gain entry to the block of flats in Ivel Court, Letchworth Garden City where Nicki Collingbourne, aged 26, lived and forced her way into her flat before murdering her, with a chicken-shaped ceramic pot, often used to store eggs, and attempting to make it look like suicide.

The jury heard how Caylor had been arrested and charged with burglary after employing a locksmith to help her enter Nicki's flat without her permission in October last year (2015).

Lisa Kiff, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the untimely death of 26-year-old Nicki Collingbourne in Letchworth in May.

"At just after 8pm on Tuesday, 24 May 2016, three family members attended Nicki's home address in Ivel Court, Letchworth as they had not heard from her since the Sunday evening, which was uncharacteristic, and were concerned for her welfare.  On arrival, they found her dead on the kitchen floor of her flat, in a pool of blood and wearing just her underwear.  Although the cause of death is unascertained, the post-mortem revealed she had not died of natural causes and stated that Nicki had sustained a blunt force trauma to her head, lacerations to her wrists and multiple abrasions to her chest and neck.  She also had bruising and incised wounds to her hands and bruising to her wrists indicative of defensive injuries.

"Nicki had been violently attacked with a knife, savagely beaten to the head with a ceramic pot, knocked unconscious and killed between 8.30am and 12pm on Monday, 23 May 2016, by her half-sister, Yvonne Caylor, who had disguised herself as a man with a wig, beard and glasses.  The aftermath of attack had been staged, possibly to resemble a suicide, and a brush bizarrely placed into Nicki's right hand.

"Caylor was linked to Nicki's death by CCTV, phone evidence and DNA profile matches from blood stains found at Nicki's flat and on one of the murder weapons; the ceramic pot.  The motive for the killing is believed to be Caylor's angry response to her impending Crown Court trial for the burglary of Nicki's flat and attempting to pervert the course of justice, which if she was convicted were likely to result in a custodial sentence.  Caylor is clearly an extremely cold, calculated and callous woman and there is no doubt that, when she attacked Nicki, she intended to kill her or cause her really serious harm.

"Caylor told a number of lies during her seven police interviews about her whereabouts between Sunday, 23 May and Monday, 23 May, all of which were disproved.  She was found guilty of murder on Monday, 19 December 2016, despite her denials.

"This case represents a tragedy for Nicki's family and friends who have been devastated by her death. I would like to pay tribute to them for their wholehearted support of the investigation and prosecution and the dignity they displayed while hearing the horrific details surrounding Nicki's brutal murder. I would also like to thank the witnesses, who gave evidence in very difficult circumstances.

"We have worked closely with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit since this investigation was launched and as a result of the hard work and diligence of the prosecution team, a just outcome has been achieved.  We know that nothing will bring Nicki back to her family and friends, but we hope that the conviction and today's sentence brings them at least a small sense that justice has been done.  Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Detective Inspector Fraser Wylie, from the Beds, Cambs and Herts Major Crime Unit, said: "The relationship between Caylor and Nicki had been difficult for many years, but their relationship further broke down after Caylor entered Nicki's flat and took items from inside.

"Angered by the impending court trial, Caylor went to Nicki's flat on the morning of Monday, May 23 with the intention of killing her.

"After the fatal blow she then attempted to stage a suicide and tried to clean the crime scene before leaving the flat.

"Nicki was a popular young woman who was much loved by her family and was a great help to her mother, who suffered from a severe respiratory disease. Tragically, shortly after Nicki's death, her mother passed away and did not get the chance to see Caylor brought to justice.

"We know nothing can ever bring Nicki back, but we hope todays sentence brings some comfort to her grieving family."