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Killer tried to cover tracks, trial told

PUBLISHED: 13:26 21 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:29 07 July 2010

A calculating killer stabbed his 60-year-old victim through the heart and stole his bank card before returning to the scene to cover his tracks, a court was told on Monday.

A calculating killer stabbed his 60-year-old victim through the heart and stole his bank card before returning to the scene to cover his tracks, a court was told on Monday.

The previous evening, Neil Hirrel went to the flat armed with a borrowed kitchen knife, intent on robbery to pay for alcohol or drugs, Norwich Crown Court was told.

About half-an-hour later a failed attempt was made to withdraw cash from the dead man's bank account and the knife and card were dumped in drains on Holt Road.

But Christopher Morgan, prosecuting, said forensic and circumstantial evidence would prove Hirrel also caused the fatal chest injury.

He also said the 40-year-old returned to the Hall Close address later that night - smashing a window and stealing a DVD recorder and jewellery to create the illusion of a break-in.

“He went back in order to make it look like there had been a burglary and, as he had dumped the knife and the card earlier, so he was to dump these items of jewellery,” said Mr Morgan.

“What happened between the time the defendant arrived at the flat and the time a failed cash transaction was attempted at the Lloyds TSB bank is known only to him.

“He was a heavy drinker and also used drugs - and that lies behind the motive of robbery to obtain money for drink or drugs.”

Following Hirrel's arrest, police recovered a DVD recorder and a gold sovereign ring from his address which contained Mr Griffiths' DNA, and blood staining on the dead man's arm matched Hirrel's DNA profile.

Mr Justice Bean also heard Hirrel washed his clothes and trainers after his first return from the flat.

Mr Morgan said Hirrel refused to answer any questions during police interviews, but signed a defence statement in August in which he claimed he only wanted to threaten Mr Griffiths to reclaim money he had paid him to buy tobacco, which had not been delivered.

“It explains the borrowing of the knife, and the attempt to withdraw cash using the card,” said Mr Morgan.

“This defendant waited to see what evidence was against him so he could explain a number of details which had already been proved, while leaving open the possibility that an unknown third person has gained entry to the flat after he left and stabbed Mr Griffiths to death.”

Mr Morgan said superficial injuries on the dead body were consistent with short, jabbing actions to the face.

He said: “It may well be that what was going on was an attempt to gain the PIN number by threatening with the knife.”

The trial continues.

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