Drug addicts jailed for fatal attack on ‘lonely’ man, 75


Aaron Brown, left, and Hannah Day, right, have been sentenced for John Cornish's manslaughter. (Dorset Police)
Aaron Brown, left, and Hannah Day, right, have been sentenced for John Cornish’s manslaughter. (Dorset Police)

Two drug addicts have been jailed for fatally attacking a “very lonely” pensioner as they tried to get money from him.

Class A user Hannah Day, 29, of Ashford, Surrey, had befriended 75-year-old Weymouth resident John Cornish and managed to manipulate £30,000 from him over several years, Dorset Police said.

She visited his home with Aaron Brown, 39, another drug user, on 6 September 2019 and, seeking money for their habit, attacked Cornish, leaving him with 42 injuries.

A court heard Day and Brown had sex in his house while the pensioner lay dead.

The pair was found guilty of manslaughter and attempted robbery following a trial at Winchester Crown Court. Day was given 14 years in prison while Brown was sentenced to 13 years and six months.

Justice Garnham told Day: “You became a cuckoo in his nest, you were not content with his generosity, you wanted more, so you took it.”

Dorset Police said Day met Brown – thought to be the first time the two had contact – earlier on the day Cornish died.

Hannah Day was found guilty of manslaughter. (Dorset Police)
Hannah Day was found guilty of manslaughter. (Dorset Police)

CCTV shows the pensioner arriving home at about 3pm, with Day and Brown arriving just before 5pm.

Police said the two wanted drug money from Cornish and an “altercation took place”, in which the elderly man suffered a fracture to a neck bone, a bump to the head, bruising on his back and small puncture marks, possibly caused by a knife or sharp instrument.

In total, Winchester Crown Court heard he suffered 42 injuries.

A post-mortem examination found that while neck compression injuries could have caused his death, it was possible he suffered a cardiac episode brought about by the stress of the attack and died.

Brown was seen leaving Cornish’s home just before 5.30pm and went to buy drugs before going to Boots and Asda to buy Viagra, while Day made calls from the landline, police said.

The pair later went out in Weymouth and were seen holding hands on CCTV before returning to Cornish’s house early the next morning, the force said.

Brown left later in the morning and Day left shortly after him, telling people outside that she had just arrived to find the pensioner dead, according to police.

The trial heard Brown called an ambulance but gave the wrong address.

Aaron Brown tried to get drug money from Cornish, police said. (Dorset Police)
Aaron Brown tried to get drug money from Cornish, police said. (Dorset Police)

Paramedics and officers did not find obvious signs of injury on Cornish, but when his family arrived they noticed items like a cabinet had been moved, and broken crockery was also found.

Among the broken pieces was a heart-shaped pendant that matched one Day was seen wearing on CCTV and Brown’s fingerprints were found on hoovered-up fragments, police said.

Day and Brown both admitted being at the home when Cornish died and said an encounter had taken place, but they blamed each other for the assault, the force said.

Day later pleaded guilty to theft and five counts of fraud by false representation.

Beverley Cornish, the victim’s daughter, told the court Day and Brown had taken advantage of the “very lonely” pensioner and added: “He was a kind, gentle man and a truly loving father to my brother and I, giving us an ideal childhood.”

She said, having lost her partner of 25 years in a car accident en route to her family’s graves, her children missed their grandfather’s support.

Detective Chief Inspector Rich Dixey, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “It is clear that while Day and Brown were at his address, John was assaulted and robbed and sadly a combination of the assault and an associated medical episode resulted in his death.

“While we may never know which defendant was the main aggressor in the assault, as both defendants made attempts to implicate each other, what we were able to prove through our investigation is that they acted together in the lead up to the incident and in the moments after.

“They therefore must both bear a share of the responsibility and I am glad that the jury’s verdicts reflected this.”

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