A man has been found guilty of murdering a woman who entered his north Wales home, mistaking it for a bed and breakfast.
Margaret Barnes, 71, from Birmingham, died on Marine Parade, Barmouth, in the early hours of 11 July 2022.
The jury at Caernarfon Crown Court heard that David Redfern, 46, had dragged Ms Barnes down the stairs after he found in her in his bedroom.
Redfern was accused of kicking or stamping on Ms Barnes in an incident that led to what a pathologist described as liver injuries similar to those seen in car crash victims.
In a statement released after the jury’s verdict, Ms Barnes’ family described her as “a much-loved wife, mother and grandmother”.
“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. As a family we would like to thank the police [for] their hard work in putting the case together.”
During the trial, Redfern admitted to having been drinking on the evening of 10 July 2022 – “about six or seven pints in total with, I believe, a gin and tonic”.
Upon arriving back at his seaside house and entering the bedroom with his partner, Nicola Learoyd-Lewis, that evening he recalled that “there was a lady lying in our bed, drinking and smoking”.
Redfern described a “black travel case” which was “open on the floor and clothes hanging up and strewn around the bedroom”.
Ms Barnes is said to have told Redfern and Ms Learoyd-Lewis that “this is my room” and that it was the “only room available”, adding that she was “meant to be here”.
Redfern said that he was attempting to defend his partner when he and Ms Barnes lost their balance and he “fell directly on top of Ms Barnes”.
He then proceeded to move Ms Barnes down the staircase by her “calf or ankle”.
‘Failed football challenge’
Once outside the property, “Ms Barnes was irate about the fact that she couldn’t find her handbag,” Redfern said, and she is said to have accused Ms Learoyd-Lewis of “stealing” it.
Redfern had argued that he “slipped and tripped” and “collided and clattered into Ms Barnes… like a failed football challenge” after she “lunged” towards Ms Learoyd-Lewis.
The jury also heard that Redfern referred to Ms Barnes as a “f****** thieving c***”.
Redfern acknowledged in his evidence that “some of the comments [he] made were appalling”.
“I honestly just thought Ms Barnes was very drunk, I’m truly sorry for the inappropriate remarks I made,” he added.
Redfern denied he had a short temper when asked by the prosecution.
When questioned further, Redfern confirmed that he had been attending anger management sessions, saying: “I have an awful lot going on in a very busy life.”
He added that he had been “speaking to a therapist to help myself. To help me understand how I could better interact with those that I loved”.
A statement from a neighbour heard by the jury detailed how she “overheard shouting from outside” on the night of Sunday, 10 July 2022.
“I immediately thought that he [Redfern] was arguing with Nikki,” the neighbour added, as she would “often” hear them arguing.
“He [Redfern] was really loud and sounding heated,” said the neighbour, adding that he “sounded like a raving lunatic”.
The pathologist Dr Brian Rogers told the jury that Ms Barnes’s fatal injuries were similar to “impact damage you’d see in a liver after a road traffic collision”.
He added that it was not a “survivable” injury for a woman of 71 years.
The court heard that Ms Barnes had survived for around two hours after being ejected from the property.
This was an “unusual length of survival” according to Dr Rogers, but he added that “everyone behaves differently”.
David Redfern will be sentenced on Friday.