Teen denies murder but admits killing grandmother in Norwich house fire

Vera Croghan, 89, who died in a house fire on Unthank Road in Norwich

A teenager has denied murder but admitted killing his gran, Vera Croghan, in a house fire in Norwich. - Credit: The Croghan Family

A teenager has denied murdering his grandmother in a house fire but admitted her manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Vera Croghan, 89, died following a blaze at her home on Unthank Road on December 11 last year.

Police were called but, at around 7am, the body of Mrs Croghan was discovered inside the property. 

Forensics teams are continuing to investigate a fatal house fire in Unthank Road in Norwich.

A picture of police and forensics teams who were called to Unthank Road following the death of Vera Croghan following a house fire. - Credit: Archant

Chanatorn Croghan, 19, has been charged with murder and appeared at Norwich Crown Court on Tuesday, September 14, when he entered a not guilty plea to murder.

But Croghan, of Northside, Norwich, who has undergone two psychiatric reports, entered a guilty plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He also denied the attempted murder of Richard Croghan, his father and the victim’s son, and admitted a count of arson with intent to endanger life on a reckless basis.

Police and crime experts investigate the Unthank Road house fire that killed grandmother Vera Croghan

Police and forensic scenes of crime officers investigating the Unthank Road house fire that killed grandmother Vera Croghan. - Credit: East Anglia News Service

Will Carter, prosecuting, said: “Plainly the prosecution are not in a position to accept those pleas.“

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He said the prosecution would need to consider the psychiatric evidence but insisted, at the moment, there would still need to be a trial on April 4 next year.

Croghan, who has been suffering from a psychotic illness and personality disorder, has been remanded at a secure mental health unit.

On Tuesday he was made the subject of a further remand under Section 36 of the Mental Health Act by Judge Anthony Bate who next listed the matter for October 7.

Vera Croghan, aged 89, who died in a fire at her home on Unthank Road Norwich

Vera Croghan, 89, who died in a house fire on Unthank Road in Norwich. - Credit: East Anglia News Service

As previously reported, Mrs Croghan had lived at the house for almost six decades and was later described by a friend as a "lovely lady".

Mrs Croghan was born in Sweden and taught at the University of East Anglia (UEA) for more than 30 years.

In a tribute, members of her family said: "Vera was a much-loved mum of four and grandmother of 10.

"She was a well-known and highly respected academic and was the author of the best-selling 'Teach Yourself Swedish' book.

"She dearly loved Norwich and the local area and loved the house that she had lived in continuously for 57 years.

"She loved baking cakes from traditional Swedish recipes, often involving cardamom and cinnamon."

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