Woman cleared of pensioner's murder

A woman was today cleared of murdering Norfolk pensioner Elsie Rees after a judge directed that a not guilty verdict should be entered.

A woman was today cleared of murdering Norfolk pensioner Elsie Rees after a judge directed that a not guilty verdict should be entered.

Judge Peter Jacobs also directed that Josephine Dougan, 58, should be acquitted of an alternative charge of manslaughter.

But Dougan of Orchard Street, Norwich, still faces charges of burgling 74-year-old Mrs Rees' home and a theft charge in which she is accused of deceiving a friend to give her up to £4,000 by pretending she had cancer.

Judge Jacobs discharged the jury which has been hearing Dougan's week-long trial at Norwich Crown Court and entered the not guilty verdicts after Patricia Lynch, prosecuting, asked for the trial to be halted following discussions with an expert witness and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mrs Lynch said the prosecution could not prove unlawful killing “beyond reasonable doubt.”

Dougan's case was adjourned for a further hearing at the crown court on Wednesday.

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Mrs Rees was found dead at her Canterbury Place home in Norwich in the early hours of June 15 2004.