Two homeless street drinkers have been sentenced to a combined total of 25 years in prison after they were convicted of killing a 54-year-old man in his Northampton home.
Karl Pound, aged 51, and Mary Cash, aged 39, appeared at Northampton Crown Court for sentencing today (Wednesday) after they killed Robert Chester in his home in Rothersthorpe Road and then set fire to his property.
Pound pleaded guilty to the murder of Robert Chester on the second day of a trial at Northampton Crown Court in April while Cash was later convicted of manslaughter.
The court heard Mr Chester’s body was found in his home in Rothersthorpe Road, Northampton, on October 8 last year after emergency services were called out to a fire at the property.
James House, prosecuting, said Mr Chester was killed after he was stabbed eight times and a fire was then deliberately started to destroy any evidence of his murder.
His Honour Judge Rupert Mayo heard that Pound had admitted stabbing Mr Chester three times in the chest and three times in the leg after the pair got into an argument over a £10 note.
After he was arrested later the same day, analysis of Pound’s clothes revealed blood that matched Mr Chester’s DNA on his trainer, a jumper and a jacket.
The court heard a blue plastic bag Pound had been carrying when he was arrested contained a knife and a towel with blood on it, featuring DNA that matched Mr Chester.
Officers also found another knife in St Mary’s churchyard - where Cash and Pound had both been drinking after leaving Mr Chester’s address - which had blood on it that matched Mr Chester’s DNA.
During her trial, Cash denied having any part in the killing. However Judge Mayo said he believed she had used one of the knives to add to Mr Chester’s injuries.
Judge Mayo said: “I believe it is very unlikely that Karl Pound would have used both knives himself in the rapid and fatal attack on Robert Chester.
”For this reason, I do believe Mary Cash used a knife to cause some injuries to Robert Chester and this is consistent with the verdict of the jury.”
The court heard that Pound had previously been convicted of 65 offences, including a number of violent crimes. He served seven years in jail for an attempted rape in 1999.
Cash also had a number of convictions for assault and shoplifting. She had been released from prison just three days before Mr Chester’s murder.
Judge Mayo said the pair had killed Mr Chester after getting into a “drunken rage” over a “trifling amount of money.”
He said: “The only sentence I can pass in the case of you, Karl Pound, is a life sentence.
“I have concluded you intended to kill Robert Chester and used a knife to inflict at least six injuries and then set fire to his body in an attempt to avoid detection.
“You then made no effort to contact emergency services. This was callous and put the lives of other residents in danger.”
Judge Mayo said Cash’s life had been full of “disturbance and abuse” due to her inability to refrain from violence and cruel behaviour.
Pound was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 19 years. Cash was sentenced to six years in prison with an extra four-year licence period. She will have to serve at least two thirds of her custodial sentence before she is considered for parole.
Detective Inspector Louise Hemingway, who led the investigation into Mr Chester’s death, said Pound and Cash had repaid Mr Chester’s act of kindness in letting them stay in his house by killing him.
She said: “Robert was known by his neighbours to be a quiet man who never caused any issues or harmed anyone. He kept himself to himself and lived a simple life with a fixed routine.
“It appears that an act of kindness by Robert was a fatal mistake. He offered to take in two people who might otherwise have had to spend a night out on the streets on a cold October night.
“There are only two people who know exactly what happened to Mr Chester, but I believe both Mary Cash and Karl Pound were incredibly violent when in drink.
“From the evidence we presented to the court, I believe the prison sentences are a fair outcome.”