Handyman accused of killing elderly woman during burglary

Hugo Da Silva Pires allegedly overpowered Nelly Akomah, 76, in her home in Ladbrook Road, Croydon, south London.

A handyman has appeared at the Old Bailey accused of murdering a vulnerable elderly woman during a burglary.

Hugo Da Silva Pires, 28, allegedly overpowered Nelly Akomah, 76, in her home and made off with her phone, purse, electronics and bible late on June 20.

Ms Akomah was found dead at the property in Ladbrook Road, Croydon, south London, the next day.

An initial post-mortem examination found she had suffered a fractured larynx and two broken ribs.

The injuries were said to be consistent with strangulation although tests are continuing to confirm how she died.

It is alleged that, after her death, Ms Akomah’s bank cards were used to buy food and watches.

On June 23  Pires and his partner Catia Feliciano, 31, from Thornton Heath in south London, were arrested at Stansted airport as they allegedly attempted to leave the country.

Pires was charged with Ms Akomah’s murder, burglary and fraud, and Feliciano was charged with fraud and perverting the course of justice.

On Wednesday Pires, who is a Portuguese national, appeared at the Old Bailey for a 48-hour preliminary hearing from Thameside prison.

He was assisted in court by a Portuguese translator and by a barrister via video link.

Judge Alexia Durran set a timetable for the case with a plea hearing on September 13.

A provisional three-week trial was fixed for May 7 2024 which was said to be the earliest available date.

The defendant, who spoke to confirm he understood the translator, was remanded into custody.

Previously, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn, of the Metropolitan Police, said Ms Akomah was an active church member and that her loss would be “keenly felt by many people”.

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