Rotherham man raped woman then murdered landlady and went on the run, court hears.

John Heald, who is standing trial for rape and murder
John Heald, who is standing trial for rape and murder
Have your say

A man who raped a woman at knifepoint in Sheffield several times then went on the run from police murdered a guest house landlady and locked her body in a bedroom, a court heard.

John Heald stabbed Bei Carter in the chest and stamped on her face before leaving her in a room at the Morayland Hotel in Bridlington, Hull Crown Court was told.

Heald was staying at the guest house after raping a woman several times in Sheffield and going on the run from police, the jury heard.

Graham Reeds QC, opening the case for the prosecution today, said: “On the evening of the 18th of July, Bei Carter was working upstairs in the guest house when the defendant violently attacked and murdered her.”

Mr Reeds said Heald used a saw knife with an 18cm blade and stabbed 49-year-old Mrs Carter with such force that the blade went through her breastbone and cut into her aorta.

The prosecutor told the jury of eight men and four women: “The degree of internal injury or bleeding caused by that injury meant that Bei Carter died where the defendant left her.

“He pulled her into one of the bedrooms of the guest house and, instead of getting help, he locked the door on her using her keys and then left the guest house as quickly as he could in an attempt to escape.”

Mr Reeds told the jury Heald raped a woman he knew on July 13 last year.

He said: “He raped her at knifepoint, in her own home, on more than one occasion, over several hours.

“At one point he gagged her with some gaffer tape but she tore it off when she could not breathe.”

When Heald was arrested, he told police he’d had sex with the woman but it was consensual, the court heard.

The jury was told he has admitted killing Mrs Carter but said it was an accident, telling police he had been threatened by some men and stabbed her accidentally during a ‘pulling and tugging on the knife’.

Mr Reeds said: “None of what he says explains away the severe force needed to inflict the chest wound, which cut through the bone, or the fact that there are several marks on her face made by the shoes, suggestive of stamping on her, with associated bruising and fracturing of the bone in her throat.”

Heald, from Foljambe Road, Rotherham, is charged with three counts of rape and one count of murder.

He denies all the charges.

The court heard Heald checked in to the Morayland Hotel on July 17.

The next night, Mrs Carter’s husband, Terry, went to look for his wife at around 11pm when he realised he had not seen or heard her for a while.

He remembered she had been working in one of the bedrooms but found the door locked, the jury was told.

Mr Reeds said: “He thought this unusual so he went and fetched a key. When he brought the key and opened the door he saw his wife, lying on her back, dead between the bed and the wall.”

The prosecutor said Heald was later seen on CCTV boarding a train to Hull at 10.36pm that night.

The court heard he sent a text message to a friend at 10.54pm, in which he said: “I’ve jus blown it mate think ive just killed someone it got on top fighting with 2 blokes in bed and breakfast place for knife out ended up stabbing a f****** woman she got in my way im f***** now mate think shes dead what the f*** do I do now may as well top myself mate got to do”

Heald went to his friend’s house and showed him the knife, which still had blood on it, the jury was told.

The court heard the knife was later recovered from a wood in Rotherham, where Heald hid out while on the run from police.

He also gave his friend a blood-stained shirt and asked him to wash it. The friend did not wash the shirt but gave it to police, the jury was told.

Mr Reeds said forensic examinations revealed Mrs Carter’s DNA on the blood-stained area.

A post-mortem examination revealed Mrs Carter died from a single stab wound to the chest. She also had defensive injuries to her hands.

Heald was arrested in Rotherham on July 25, a week after Mrs Carter’s death.

The trial continues.