Edinburgh mum bludgeoned to death with a hammer and dumped in a wheelie bin

A vulnerable Edinburgh mother was brutally murdered in a frenzied hammer attack, a court has heard

By Jennifer Logan
Thursday, 1st October 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 7:07 pm
Murder accused Richard Canlin
Murder accused Richard Canlin

Former Balerno High pupil Nicola Stevenson, who had survived cancer, was found dead in a bin in undergrowth on the edge of the recreation ground in Lewes, Sussex, last November.

The mother-of-two had been missing from her home in the town for five weeks.

Richard Canlin, 41, unemployed and of no fixed address, is standing trial at Hove Crown Court accused of her murder.

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Victim: Nicola Stevenson

The court heard that Nicola’s body was discovered in a green wheelie bin by a dog walker after midday on November 13.

Opening the case for prosecution, Caroline Carberry QC told the court that Nicola had been killed in a brutal attack which left her with numerous skull and face fractures and a fracture to her neck.

“Her body was in a state of decomposition,” she told the court.

Nicola was a vulnerable person and suffered with congenital deformities of the spine and a form of dwarfism, Ms Carberry said.

She was 4ft 9in tall and walked with a stick and used a mobility scooter to get around.

She was last seen at her GP surgery on October 9, the court heard.

Her phone had not been used and she failed to respond to messages from concerned friends.

She also did not turn up for a hospital appointment on October 18.

Ms Carberry told the court: “She was murdered in her own home by the defendant, Richard Canlin, in a frenzied attack with a hammer on October 10, last year, about five weeks before her body was discovered in the wheelie bin.

“He had been lodging in Nicola’s one-bed flat in Stansfield Road for about a month to six weeks before she went missing.

“After she went missing, Canlin told neighbours she went to Scotland.

“He did not report her missing and did not attempt to contact her.”

Ms Carberry told the court that Canlin made an application on the tenancy of Nicola’s flat to be put into his name.

He had also changed her electricity in his name, used her bank card to buy items, including a snooker table and xbox, and continued to collect her prescription pain relief medicine from the pharmacy.

During the afternoon of October 10, which prosecution say was the day Nicola was murdered, Nicola contacted a friend to say Canlin was ‘kicking off again’ because she had caught him out again stealing her prescription medicine and was refusing to leave her home, the court heard.

Nicola sent a message to her friend saying: “Hey, can you send police to mine please, he’s kicking off because I’ve caught him out stealing my meds again.”

She sent another message just a minute late that read: “Please.”

Nicola tried calling the police on 101, but there was no answer, the court heard.

She then sent two emails to a police officer, telling her Canlin was getting abusive because she ‘wanted him out’.

Canlin denies murder. The trial continues.

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