Hervey Bay carer denies murdering frail friend

POLICE are preparing to call 95 witnesses in the trial of a man accused of killing the elderly neighbour he was caring for.

Frederick Ronald Sinfield is charged with the murder of 75-year-old Norma Ludlam, who died after being found on the floor of her Eli Waters home in July, 2015.

Defence lawyer Angus Edwards told Hervey Bay Magistrates Court on Wednesday Ms Ludlam was already dying when his client arrived at her house.

He said his client called an ambulance, got her to squeeze his hand, and then opened the door for the paramedics.

Ms Ludlam later died in hospital.

Police allege the victim was hit on the head with an object, and suffered other unexplained injuries.

The accused murderer, now aged 62, has been in jail for about two-and-a-half years awaiting trial.

Mr Edwards yesterday made an application to cross-examine 16 of the police witnesses prior to the actual trial to clarify some facts.

"My client is charged with murder, he faces a mandatory life term if convicted," Mr Edwards told Magistrate Stephen Guttridge.

"So that sets the context of my application."

The court heard the elderly woman suffered from osteoporosis, which caused her bones to become weak and fragile, among other health problems.

When questioned by police officers after Ms Ludlam was taken to hospital, Mr Sinfield said his neighbour sometimes suffered from falls.

Having been her casual carer up until that point, Mr Sinfield told police he would likely earn a full-time carer allowance, given the seriousness of her injuries.

Mr Edwards said his client had never made admissions to hurting his neighbour, and was only charged because his version of events did not match with "circumstantial evidence."

Mr Edwards criticised police for not warning Mr Sinfield he was a suspect prior to interviewing him.

Details of what some of the other witnesses have told police regarding the alleged murder were revealed in court on Wednesday.

One witness said Ms Ludlam and Mr Sinfield had some conflict, and she was unhappy he had used her bank card to pay bills.

Another witness said Ms Ludlam was indecently touched by the alleged killer after he helped her out of the shower, days before her death.

A neighour recalled being woken by barking dogs on the night of the alleged crime, and hearing a male voice yelling and a woman screaming.

Mr Guttridge granted Mr Edwards access to some of his requested witnesses for pre-trial cross-examination, which will take place in the coming months.


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