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‘Callous’ son who killed mother with hammer and lived with body for two months jailed for life

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A man who bludgeoned his mother to death with a hammer and left her decomposing body in a bedroom over Christmas has been jailed for life.

Dale Morgan hit Judith Rhead a total of 14 times with the tool, just weeks before Christmas last year, after she discovered he had been stealing money from her.

The 43-year-old then left her body in the bloodstained bedroom of her home in Market Street, Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, for two months.

Undated handout photo issued by Dyfed-Powys Police of Judith Rhead. Dale Morgan has has been jailed for life at Swansea Crown Court after he bludgeoned his mother to death with a hammer and left her decomposing body in her home over Christmas. Issue date: Monday October 4, 2021.
Image: Judith Rhead. Pic: Dyfed-Powys Police

Morgan continued to live in his mother’s flat as he tried to conceal what he had done, walking her dog and lying to her friends and neighbours that she was either isolating at home due to COVID-19, was ill, or in hospital, a court heard.

Mrs Rhead’s decomposing body was not discovered until 20 February when police officers went to her home having been contacted by her concerned friends.

The 68-year-old was found “slumped in a kneeling position against the bed” with her right hand and forearm on the bed, Paul Lewis QC, prosecuting, told the court.

He added that she was “partially clothed and a plastic bag has been placed over her head”, and she had been “tied in place with an electrical cable”.

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The court heard from the prosecutor that evidence suggested Morgan had killed his mother between 11 and 18 December.

“It is plain the defendant bludgeoned his mother repeatedly with a hammer,” Mr Lewis said.

He described the attack as “ferocious” and “sustained” and said it was aggravated by Morgan leaving his mother’s body for two months and lying about her whereabouts.

A note written by Mrs Rhead said: “Huge lies ie car, work had been furloughed, stealing money, stealing medication. ? drug addiction, opiates.”

Mr Lewis said: “It is clear from the note that prior to her death she had concerns about the defendant taking money from her.”

Bank records show, from 3 December to 11 February, Morgan transferred £2,878 in 11 transactions from his mother’s accounts to his own.

Shortly after, he withdrew the money in cash.

In a victim impact statement, Mrs Rhead’s niece Gemma Phillips said: “Judith loved Dale and stuck up for him throughout his life. He betrayed her in the most horrendous way.

“We will never know the details of Judith’s final moments, but it is something we constantly think about, and this will haunt us for the rest of our lives.”

Judge Paul Thomas QC described the murder as a “savage, sustained attack on a defenceless, vulnerable woman”.

“You were your mother’s only child. She adored you, she stuck up for you even when you stole from her on a previous occasion,” he told Morgan.

“She tried to help you with your problems. She worried about your substance misuse, and she let you live with her despite the disruption and anxiety your presence in the house no doubt caused her.

“In short, you were pretty much her life. You repaid those 43 years of devotion by bludgeoning her to death with a hammer. Not once, not twice, but no fewer than 14 times to the head, intending to kill her.”

Morgan, of Honeyborough Green, Neyland, Pembrokeshire, had previously pleaded guilty to murder.

He was jailed for life and will have to serve a minimum term of 21 years and six months before being eligible to apply for parole.