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Killer watched TV as victim lay dying

By John Scott | Netherton | Crime | Published:

He professed to love Claire Harris but preferred to watch TV rather than make an emergency call for an ambulance as she lay dying on the floor of her flat.

Rickardo Wilson and, right, victim Claire Harris

Rickardo Wilson is an arrogant man with an alarming temper that spelled danger for the 44-year-old mother of eight during a near four- year doomed relationship punctuated by heavy drinking and violence.

Her friend Stacey Malcolm explained: “It was drink fuelled, love hate and had got aggressively worse over the years.

Now the 50-year-old faces a long jail sentence after being convicted of the manslaughter of Miss Harris who had 86 injuries, 43 of which were to the head and neck, Stafford Crown Court was told.

Her body was found in the same position on the floor of her rented ground floor flat where she had been pulled down by Wilson up to 24 hours earlier.

He told police he had ‘no idea’ how these had been caused and was acquitted of murder by the jury.

He was remanded in custody until September when he will be sentenced.

She was 5ft 5ins tall and weighed less than ten stone while he was five inches taller and well built.

There was no definitive cause of death but the pathologist said it was likely to have been asphyxia.

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There was deep internal bruising to her neck muscles.

The couple had split up and there was talk of Miss Harris wanting to get rid of him for good when tragedy struck.

Police outside the house in Cinder Bank, Netherton

Miss Harris allowed Wilson to remain in her flat in Cinder Bank, Netherton – where he had lived ‘on and off’ with her since 2015 – while he supposedly looked for alternative accommodation and she stayed in Dudley with her sons.

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She was lured back to the address by his invitation to ‘dinner and beer’ on January 23. Initially the victim was reluctant but he persisted and she relented after another message from him pleaded: ‘Don’t let me down babe. Ain’t seen you for ages.”

They drank alcohol and listened to music until a neighbour asked them to turn down the noise. Wilson claimed he was prepared to oblige but alleged Miss Harris refused the request and this led to an argument.

Another neighbour told police she saw the pair struggling outside the premises with him holding her in a headlock with his arms round her neck while she shouted he was about to kill her, the court heard.

He claimed to have been pulling her away from the man who complained about the loud music.

Mr Jonas Hankin, prosecuting, revealed the defendant admitted grabbing her round the neck and dragging her to the floor inside the house later that evening after she had allegedly picked up a kitchen knife during the row.

Wilson said he let her go when he realised her eyes were closed and she had gone limp.

He watched TV for ‘ten minutes’ before returning to the prone figure to ‘discover’ she was not breathing, the court heard.

The defendant maintained he panicked, gave her artificial respiration without success but did not ring for an ambulance or the police and said nothing to her family who had expected her to return that night and became increasingly concerned when she failed to answer her phone the following day.

Anxious son Daniel Piddington – one of the eight children she had during an 18-year relationship with Martin Piddington, who died just months before her death, called at the Cinder Bank flat and found her body on the floor where it had been lying for up to 24 hours.

He banged on the door and window for several minutes before looking through the letter box and seeing the defendant who eventually opened the door a fraction and told him Miss Harris had gone home but the gap was wide enough for the visitor to see his mother lying motionless on the floor.

He burst into the flat, confirmed she was dead and attacked Wilson. He later told police, who arrived to find the battered killer with his hands tied: “I couldn’t stop hitting him.”

Wilson denied both murder and manslaughter arguing he only used reasonable and normal force to disarm grandmother of six Miss Harris of the knife she was allegedly holding when tragedy struck.

Her family said in a statement: “Mom was always there when we needed her most and always had a great story to tell. She was our rock when our dad sadly passed after a battle with cancer in March last year. Having to deal with losing both our parents in the space of nine months has been the most heart-breaking thing we will ever have to face.

“She was taken from us all too soon, and it has left a big hole in our hearts. Our memories will always be treasured and will live on in all of her children. Mom was a wonderful and kind-hearted person who would help anyone. She was an inspiration to her family and friends. We will stay strong for her and she will forever be in our hearts. She was a ball of fun, the life and soul of the party, who lit up the room wherever she went. Mom you will be truly missed by everyone that knew you.”

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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