A PENSIONER was found dead by her son-in-law on the floor of her sheltered housing bungalow with towels placed over her face and body, a murder trial has heard.
Robert Iannelli told a court he went to Rosina Sutherland’s house after being contacted by a security firm to say an alarm had been sounding at her home and no movement had been detected by a sensor for some time.
After letting himself in, Mr Iannelli said he found that his mother-in-law’s usually tidy Longstone house had been “trashed”.
Kevin Rooney, 26, is accused of attacking 74-year-old Ms Sutherland, who suffered from mild dementia, at her home last year.
He is alleged to have killed her after ransacking her home, sexually assaulting her, repeatedly hitting her on the head and body and compressing her throat, restricting her breathing.
Rooney, who is on trial at the High Court in Aberdeen, is also accused of robbing the OAP of money, keys and a walking stick during the alleged incident on October 29 last year.
Mr Iannelli, 45, said: “I saw a pair of bare feet. She was down the side of the bed at my feet. There was a big white towel over her body, and as I looked further up there was a smaller, dark brown towel which had been neatly folded. It was over her head.
“I lifted the towel and I saw Rose’s face and I put the back of my hand against her neck to see if she was still warm.
“I put it back on her head. I just knew there was something wrong. Something inside me just said don’t touch anything, put everything back and get out the house.
“I phoned my wife, Teresa. I just said ‘your mum’s dead’. She was hysterical. I said something was wrong – the house had been trashed.”
Ms Sutherland’s daughter, Teresa Iannelli, said she had planned to take her mum to buy a new bed the day her body was found and said the pensioner had withdrawn the cash she needed – £1200 – on two separate occasions.
Mrs Iannelli said she would often lock her mum inside at night because she did not have the strength to work the security handle on her own.
The court also heard from Alan Cowe, a senior identification officer for the Scottish Police Authority, who carried out a forensic investigation of the bungalow.
He said that a mobile phone, tobacco and a library card with the accused’s name printed on it were found inside a dark Adidas jacket and jogging bottoms found close to the body.
He also said a footprint found on a broken picture frame matched that of a training shoe seized from the accused.
Mr Cowe said he examined the OAP’s body at the scene and said she was found in a state of semi-undress.
He said: “The suspender tabs appeared to have been torn from the girdle and were attached to the stocking.”
Rooney faces another charge of trying to sell cannabis at the Longstone Inn on the same date.
He denies the allegations.
The trial, before Lady Dorrian, continues.