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'Mistaken identity' claim by man accused of murdering Colne grandmother
A MAN accused of murdering his partner’s grandmother told a jury the pensioner mistakenly identified him to police as having attacked her in her home.
George Portsmouth insists officers arrested the wrong person over the death of Connie French, 80, who gave a witness video recorded interview to police from a hospital bed.
Around 12 days before she died, Mrs French had written down his first name for officers and mouthed his surname, as being the man who harmed her at her house in North Street, Colne, and taking her money. She also indicated that a pillow had been placed over her face.
Portsmouth, 25, formerly of Varley Street, Colne, is on trial at Preston Crown Court where he denies murdering her in April last year. An alarm pendant worn by Mrs French was activated in the early hours of March 27.
Portsmouth’s blood was found on a pillow case used by him to try to smother her, the prosecution alleges.
The defendant accepted that his blood had been found on the case, but said he visited her most days and couldn’t say when it got there.
He told the court: “When you work with steel you get cuts here and there. Bits of steel can get stuck in your fingers.”The defendant said in evidence that from time to time Mrs French would lend him money. He accepted having had a gambling problem.
Portsmouth said that on Sunday, March 25, he was given permission to use Mrs French’s bank card to withdraw more than £200. At another time that day he had a conversation with a carer at her address about the back door having been unlocked. He went to Mrs French’s home hours before she was attacked to deliver the £230.
Under cross examination from Kate Blackwell QC, prosecuting, he accepted that Mrs French had appeared ‘bright as a tack’ and without memory problems. But he claimed the woman was wrong when she gave his name to police.
Asked if he could think of any reason why Mrs French might identify him, Portsmouth said: “I think it’s mistaken identity.”