Debt-ridden handyman who admitted murdering pensioner jailed for life

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The murder weapon was recovered from the River Rom, where Prause had thrown it after the killing.

A debt-ridden handyman who bludgeoned an 85-year-old widow to death with a hammer and stole her £7,000 diamond ring has been jailed for life.

Judge Philip Katz QC jailed him for life with a minimum term of 22 years.

He described the wounds inflicted on the vulnerable victim as “sickening”.

He told Prause: “Your attack with a hammer was brutal and sustained long enough for her to have defensive wounds. Her terror can only be imagined. There were at least 11 blows with severe force.”

The Old Bailey heard how Prause had worked for Mrs Coleman as a gardener for about six years.

Paul Prause
Paul Prause has been jailed at the Old Bailey for life (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He later admitted killing Mrs Coleman, claiming he acted out of anger at something she said.


Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said: “He said that he had been under pressure for some time and if it had not been Rosie that day someone else ‘would have got it’.”

He said the defendant had set about staging the scene of a burglary before police arrived.

The blood splattered bedroom was ransacked with drawers pulled out.

Rings in shed
A ring found in the shed of handyman Paul Prause which belonged to Rosina Coleman (Metropolitan Police/PA)


The murder weapon was recovered from the River Rom, where Prause had thrown it after the killing.

When Prause’s home in Romford was searched, a white gold diamond ring solitaire twist was found on top of a brick inside the garage.

The ring, belonging to Mrs Coleman, had a retail value of up to £7,000.

At the time of the killing, regular gambler Prause was in debt, the court heard.

The hammer used by Paul Prause to kill Rosina Coleman (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Outside court, Mrs Coleman’s daughter Sharon Thomas said she lived her life “to the full”.

She said: “We as a family have been robbed of our queen. We feel robbed through mindless greed.

“This has left a hole in our family which will never be filled.”

Mrs Coleman had two children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren and was “loved by everyone”, she said.

Sharon Thomas
Sharon Thomas speaks to reporters outside the Old Bailey (Victoria Jones/PA)

On her killer, she added: “I could not wish him any more damage than he has done himself. I’m a Christian. I’ve got to find a way of forgiving him. I don’t think I’m ready for that.

“I do not wish him dead or anything like that. That would be too easy. He’s got to spend every day remembering what he has done. That’s the punishment.”

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Considine, of Scotland Yard, said: “Rose has been described to my investigation team as a well-respected and independent lady who loved gardening and making dresses, and attended the Royal British Legion club on Saturday nights.”

She became the victim of a “despicable and ruthless murder by someone she trusted”, Mr Considine said.

He added: “In interview he said he became angry after she made a jokey comment to him but the police investigation and the prosecution maintain that his motivation that day was to steal Rose’s precious jewellery and when she challenged him, he murdered her.”

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