Man tied up, gagged and left to die

Police at the flat where the body of John Kiernan was found
Police at the flat where the body of John Kiernan was found

A 62-year-old Kettering man was bound, gagged and then murdered in his home.

Phillip Haslam, 36, is accused of murdering John Kiernan in his home in Havelock Street, Kettering.

Mr Kiernan’s decomposing body was found when police broke in on October 1 last year.

Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday how Mr Kiernan died as a result of a head injury and may have laid undiscovered for up to two weeks.

Haslam, of Gloucester Court, Kettering, has admitted two burglaries of Mr Kiernan’s flat on September 3 last year, and between August 31 and September 8.

He has also admitted robbing 62-year-old Raymond Heaviside of a wallet, bank cards and cash in a hammer attack in Duke Street, Kettering, on September 1.

However, Haslam denies murdering Mr Kiernan on September 18.

It is alleged he tied Mr Kiernan’s arms and feet behind his back with electrical cord, gagged him with a pair of socks and then murdered him by hitting him a brick.

Christine Windle, 37, formerly of Duke Street, Kettering, now of Birmingham, pleaded guilty yesterday to arranging the robbery of Mr Heaviside.

She denies burgling Mr Kiernan’s flat, with Haslam, in the weeks leading up to his death.

David Herbert, prosecuting, said: “Mr Kiernan was targeted by Haslam who repeatedly burgled his property.

“On one occasion both defendants burgled the property together. On a separate occasion, effectively during the course of another burglary, John Kiernan, the prosecution says, was violently assaulted by Haslam and was then tied up and left to die.

“The motive was to obtain money that would be spent on drugs, particularly heroin.”

The jury heard Mr Heaviside was friends with Windle and he trusted her with his bank card and PIN, often giving her money or alcohol which they drank together.

They met on September 1 to drink vodka in a Kettering park. When Windle returned home without handing back Mr Heaviside’s change, he contacted her and arranged to collect it from her home.

Windle, who was at home with her new boyfriend Haslam, told him and another man Mr Heaviside was on his way and said “they could effectively rob him, rough him up.”

Mr Herbert said: “He arrived shortly before 7pm. Once inside the communal area, he was immediately attacked by Haslam.

“There’s no dispute he hit him with the hammer two to three times. Windle effectively set it up but remained at the scene, giving every impression she was concerned and helped out.”

Haslam and Windle were filmed using his bank card to withdraw £300 from a cash point.

Mr Herbert then told the court Haslam was the man who killed Mr Tiernan.

The court heard in the weeks leading up to Mr Kiernan’s death, Haslam repeatedly broke in to his home and stole bank cards and banking documents, clothing and other items.

Mr Kiernan’s landlord saw Haslam leaving the property at 2am on September 3, the jury heard.

And on September 12, Mr Kiernan made a complaint of burglary and assault to the police about Haslam after one of the break-ins.

In the early hours of September 20, Haslam visited Windle and Louise Wall in Duke Street, Kettering, and told them he had “robbed someone in their home”.

Mr Herbert said: “Having effectively attacked Mr Kiernan, he said he had tied him up, gagged him and then whacked him a few times. At the time, he appeared to find what he had done amusing.

“He had blood on a white jacket with a hood, particularly in the area of the right sleeve. During the day of September 20, Haslam made a significant comment to Louise Wall and the occupant of the flat about murder. He explained how the man was a bit tied up.

“He said he had gagged the victim as he was tying him up and had hit him over the head with a brick. He said he had made him sign a cheque because there had been no money to steal.

“Having heard this during the course of the day, Louise Wall became sufficiently concerned to tell her mother about it and at one stage she asked her mother to contact the police.

“She also urged Haslam to visit the house again to see if the victim was alright.”

The jury heard Haslam did return to the flat and found Mr Kiernan dead with a head injury, checked his pulse, and moved his post so as not to arouse neighbours’ concerns.

When police broke into the Havelock Street flat on October 1, they found Mr Kiernan’s decomposing body on the bed.

His hands and feet had been tied behind his back.

Mr Herbert added: “It’s apparent he had been gagged and bound while alive. The gag would have obstructed his airways and after being immobilised, he had been repeatedly struck to the head.

“The blows had caused severe head injuries and he had died as a result.”

Haslam denies murder and Windle denies burglary.

The trial continues.