Man jailed for murdering and raping his 80 year old neighbour
A drug addict from Merseyside has been sentenced to 31 years in jail for murdering and raping a deeply religious and popular 80-year-old woman.
Charles Stapleton, 51, pleaded guilty to murdering his neighbour Teresa Wishart and stealing jewellery from her, including her wedding ring, at Liverpool Crown Court on 22 January.
Stapleton had been due to stand trial at the same court this week for raping Mrs Wishart but changed his plea to guilty at the start of the case. He admitted raping her after he had broken into her home on Wednesday 18 October 2017.
Mrs Wishart was found dead at her home in Changford Road in Kirkby by her daughter around 11am on Thursday 19 October. Her daughter came each week to help her mother with her shopping.
Mrs Wishart was lying on the floor of the living room, with a pool of blood around her head and her clothing had been tampered with.
Her daughter realised she was dead and ran outside to get help. Her mother’s house had been ransacked, her jewellery boxes were empty and her handbag and purse had gone.
On the same day, Stapleton went to a local pawnbroker and pawned Mrs Wishart’s wedding ring, earrings and a watch.
Shortly after he had pawned the items he contacted a friend who was also a drug addict and smoked two pipes of crack cocaine with him.
The friend told Stapleton that Mrs Wishart had been found dead and Stapleton said to him, “That was me.” But he later denied it.
The court heard that Stapleton lived in a house in Watts Close in Kirkby that backed onto Mrs Wishart’s garden. He had befriended her in the months leading up to the break-in, doing odd jobs for her.
He had even promised to keep an eye out for her after one of her relatives said items of jewellery had gone missing from her home.
In the hours following her murder, several neighbours reported seeing Stapleton around Mrs Wishart’s house and behaving oddly.
When police officers questioned him about her death and the break-in, Stapleton denied any involvement at first but later pleaded guilty.
Angela Rowan, from the CPS, said: “Mrs Wishart was a law-abiding, devoutly religious, community-spirited loving mother, who lost her husband many years ago.
“That her life should come to an end in this way is truly awful. Her close family have been devastated by this heinous crime and the Crown Prosecution Service extends sincere condolences to them.
“We can only hope that the successful conclusion of this tragic case helps in some way. Our thoughts remain with them at this dreadful time.”
Notes to editors
Angela Rowan is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS Mersey-Cheshire