AN ELDERLY widow was stabbed to death and mutilated in her home in an horrific and 'wicked' attack a court heard this week.

Alice Rye, aged 74, was found murdered at her home in Poulton Road, Spital on the Wirral on December 11, 1996, the day after her death.

Kevin Morrison, aged 59, of Pinfold Caravan Site, Wettenhall Road, Poole in Nantwich has denied murdering the pensioner.

Robert Fordham QC, prosecuting, said: "This is a case of great unusualness and great horror and great wickedness.

"It is of great horror that it is alleged that the defendant not only murdered Alice Rye but, after death, mutilated her.

"It is a case of great wickedness because this defendant has sought quite boldly to blame another for her death and it is a case of great unusualness because had it not been for an initiative taken by this defendant it is unlikely that he would have been brought to justice."

He told the court that Mrs Rye was found on a bed in the back bedroom, her lower clothes had been removed, her upper clothing pushed up and her hands were tied with a rope behind her back.

She had two stab wounds to the chest, one of which penetrated the heart, two to the back and had wounds to her eyes.

A towel had been forced into her mouth, around her neck was a loosely tied piece of cloth with a ligature mark on it and Mr Fordham added that her knickers were missing, inferring that the murderer had taken them as a trophy.

A supermarket shopping trolley containing 14 pairs of women's knickers was found at a lock up garage rented by Morrison in Ellesmere Port.

Mr Fordham claimed they included a pair which DNA evidence suggested belonged to the victim and findings provided 'extremely strong' evidence that semen on them was from Morrison.

When these were found he said Morrison had told police "well then if you think they've been worn there'll be DNA on them and you can match them to Alice Rye and I'm in big trouble."

Mr Fordham added that no breakthrough was made in the case until May 1998 when Morrison, a police informant, told police he had information about Alice Rye and the mutilations she had suffered. These details had not been released.

Morrison allegedly claimed that another man, Keith Darlington, had given him "stuff" from a robbery on the day of the murder which included documents, costume jewellery and a bloodstained knife.

In later interviews he maintained he was not the killer and his knowledge came from Mr Darlington and the newspapers.

He claimed Mr Darlington had gone looking for a woman living alone, taken Mrs Rye upstairs at knifepoint, stolen property and when she would not tell him her pin number stuffed a towel in her mouth and poured water on it.

She would still not tell him the number, he started choking her and had killed her because she could identify him.

Morrison claimed Darlington also said: "I watch Cracker. They're going to do a psychological profile on this guy and they won't be looking for me, they'll be looking for a nutter."

The case continues.

Converted for the new archive on 13 March 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.