A pensioner suffering with dementia has been found guilty of committing the act of killing his neighbour.

Alan Fare, 72, was found guilty of the act of killing Mandy Houghton by unanimous verdict at Preston Crown Court on Thursday, a decision which took the jury less than two hours to reach.

Fare, of Victory Close, Nelson, was deemed unfit to stand trial due to his medical disabilities, being that he is suffering from dementia and at the time of his arrest, in June 2020, was also experiencing paranoia and psychosis.

Therefore, the trial has been a 'trial of facts', where the jury is still able to rule but only by relying on the facts of the case presented to them over the course of proceedings.

They were directed by His Honour Judge Robert Altham to reach a verdict on whether Fare committed 'the act' of killing, rather than 'the offence' of killing due to his mental incapacity. 

Over the course of three days, the jury of eight men and four women heard how on the morning of June 3 last year, Fare had killed his 58-year-old neighbour in her own home using a claw hammer, in what was decsribed as a sustained and forceful attack.

At around 11am Fare had then driven to Burnley from Nelson and flagged down a police officer close to the police station on Parker Lane.

While conversing with the officer, Fare mentioned Mandy Houghton's name, and intimated that there had been some problems with her.

He then veered off-course with his conversation, telling the officer about some missing post, and that he thought someone had been in his house.

Officers became concerned about his demeanour as they noticed blood splatterings on his clothes and were worried about his mental state.

After establishing Ms Houghton's address from the defendant, a welfare visit was made, with police having to force entry to the locked property.

Fare however had been able to tell police exactly where a set of keys to Ms Houghton's house were, and where he had left them. He also described there being a keyring on the keys, which police found after they had forced entry to Ms Houghton's home.

Ms Houghton was found lying in a pool of blood in her hallway, a claw hammer on the floor close-by. Paramedics were called but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem revealed her cause of death as blunt head trauma, which had been caused by a 'sustained and forceful attack'.

Fare was arrested under the mental health act and following investigations a number of people, including neighbours of both the defendant and Ms Houghton were interviewed.

Throughout the course of the trial, the jury heard evidence from witnesses who had been concerned about Fare's behaviour in the weeks before Ms Houghton's death, including Yolanda Holmes who worked for the housing association and a neighbour, Angela Pennington; both of whom had described his demeanour as 'strange', with Ms Holmes expressing worries that Fare may be developing dementia, and Ms Pennington becoming concerned about his fixation with Ms Houghton.

Witness, Nicola Wright, who was a good friend of Ms Houghton told the jury that during a phone conversation, Ms Houghton had told her Fare had said 'he needed to hand himself in to the police, but couldn't do that yet as he hadn't done what he needed to do'. This was the last time she spoke with her friend.

Fare will now be sentenced by His Honour Judge Altham.