Landlady ‘grabbed knife to defend herself’ in moments before death

John Heald denies murder and three counts of rape.
John Heald denies murder and three counts of rape.
Have your say

A landlady allegedly murderd by an on-the-run rapist from South Yorkshire grasped a knife being used to attack her in a vain attempt to defend herself, a jury heard.

Pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd told Hull Crown Court that 49-year-old Bei Carter – who ran the Morayland Hotel in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, with her husband Terry – had 10 injuries to her left hand, mainly superficial, but with one deep cut and three to her right hand.

She died on Friday, July 18, last year, after being stabbed once with such force that the seven-inch serrated blade went through her breastbone, severing her aorta.

Dr Shepherd said the injuries to her hands were typical defensive injuries ‘caused when the victim grasps hold of a knife in an attempt to defend themselves’.

The court heard Mrs Carter had three overlying impressions on her face from a trainer matching one worn by John Heald, who denies murder, causing injuries including the fracture of the hyoid bone in her neck.

Heald, aged 53, of Foljambe Road, Rotherham, denies murder and three counts of raping another woman in Sheffield on July 13 last year.

The court has heard he claims he accidentally stabbed her and then trod on her face in panic.

Dr Shepherd said ‘severe’ force would have been needed to penetrate the breastbone and the wound would have been four inches deep.

Of the facial injuries. he said: “It would be my opinion that the degree of injury, the patterning, the bruising and the fracture are more consistent with a stamp or kick, a higher level of force than an accidental treading.”

The court heard Heald was taken to hospital after being arrested after hiding out in a wood in Rotherham, having taken an overdose of paracetomol over three days.

His friend John Ward, who saw the bloodied knife when Heald visited on July 19, said Heald had described the landlady as ‘probably in her 40s’ and ‘attractive’.

The case continues.