A 41-year-old woman from Leiston who admitted killing her elderly uncle in the town earlier this year has been jailed.
Susan Warne, of Valley Road, Leiston, pleaded guilty to the murder of 80-year-old John Proctor at Ipswich Crown Court on Friday 16 October.
Warne was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 20 years’ imprisonment at the crown court this morning, Monday 9 November.
Mr Proctor’s body was discovered at his home in Grimsey Road, Leiston, on the morning of Monday 15 June. A Home Office post-mortem examination concluded that the cause of death was compression to the neck.
Initial enquiries by detectives investigating the death quickly identified Susan Warne as a suspect and she was arrested the following evening, Tuesday 16 June. She was then charged with murder three days later.
The court heard today that Warne had a severe gambling habit and had become addicted to online bingo. Her need for money to sustain this addiction drove her to kill Mr Proctor.
Warne had gone to Mr Proctor’s home on Saturday 13 June and strangled him after pushing him down the stairs, leaving him without a chance of defending himself. She then stabbed him in the neck with a knife.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Kevin Hayward of the Major Investigation Team, said: “This was a despicable and cowardly crime that not only deprived an elderly man of the final years of his life, but is a real family tragedy as in addition to having to come to terms with his untimely death, John’s relatives have also had to cope with and comprehend the fact that it was another member of the family who killed him.
“Susan Warne should have been someone her uncle could trust to come into his home and look after him at his stage of life, however she used this position of trust to ruthlessly kill him so she could steal money to feed her gambling habit.
“John was a fit and active 80-year-old who still worked part-time at a local holiday park maintaining the grounds. He also took great pride in his own home and garden and clearly had a lot of life left to live.
“By admitting the crime, Susan Warne has at least spared the family the further rigour of a trial and they may now begin the process of moving forward with their lives following this terrible ordeal.”
Suffolk Constabulary has been asked to release the following statement on behalf of the family: “The last five months has been a very traumatic time for us all. Finding out that a member of your family has been murdered is something you never think you will have to cope with in your lifetime, but then finding out it is a close member of your own family that is responsible is an unbearable situation to deal with.
“John was a well-known character, who could always make you laugh with his unique sense of humour. He was also a very loving and kind uncle who was always there for us.
“It has been difficult for our family to hear rumours that he was in some way responsible for what happened to him. John’s death was a tragic result of what a gambling addiction can do to a person and the devastation it causes the people around them.
“We find it very sad that Susan was unable to talk to us about her gambling addiction or seek help. We believe gambling is a taboo subject and needs more awareness and help for those whose gambling may be effecting their lives.”
There are organisations which are able to provide guidance and support for those that are affected by gambling. Help is available through www.gamcare.org.uk or via their free helpline on 0800 8020133.