Hackney man Michael Weir ‘left pensioners for dead’ in East Finchley and Kensington in 1998, murder trial hears

Murder charge remanded to Old Bailey. Picture source: Google

Murder charge remanded to Old Bailey. Picture source: Google - Credit: Google

Two pensioners were beaten up and left for dead by “callous” burglar Michael Weir, a court heard.

Hackney man Weir, 52, fatally assaulted retired East Finchley cabbie Leonard Harris, 78, and mother-of-three Rose Seferian, 83, in 1998 before making off with diamond rings and a gold watch, the Old Bailey was told.

The victims were rushed to hospital but died later.

Mr Harris's wife Gertrude also suffered head injuries but survived, jurors were told.

The court heard how police missed a vital clue to the killer in 1998 and new DNA testing had since revealed more evidence linking Weir to the attacks.

Prosecutor Tom Little QC told how the "defenceless" pensioners were struck repeatedly and knocked to the ground, then "left for death".

On January 28 1998, Weir allegedly broke into Mr Harris's flat in East Finchley, north London, leaving him with serious head injuries.

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Mr Harris was found by an estate agent calling for help from the communal landing while his wife, who suffered from dementia, lay badly hurt on the floor of the bedroom.

The bedroom had been ransacked in the burglar's hunt for jewellery, the court heard.

An 18-carat gold Zenith watch that Mr Harris had taken from a German soldier during the Second World War and his gold signet ring were missing.

Three days after the attack, police found a palm print on the bedroom door but missed the match to the defendant at the time, because a comparative print was not the best quality, the court heard.

Mr Little said the evidence of the print "definitely" put him in the victim's flat, right by the scene of the attack on Mrs Harris.

DNA testing not available in 1998 later linked Weir to the crime scene, he said.

A blood scraping from the internal hallway revealed DNA belonging to both Mrs Harris and the defendant, jurors were told.

A blood-stained glove found on a grass verge outside the Harris flat was also found to have the defendant's DNA on it, it was claimed.

Mr Little told jurors that Weir denied being at the scene when he was first interviewed by police in 1998.

Weeks after the first assault, Ms Seferian was set upon in the three-bedroom flat in Kensington, west London, she shared with her son and two daughters.

On March 5 1998, Weir allegedly violently assaulted her in her bedroom when she was home alone.

He ripped three valuable rings from her fingers and may also have taken money from her handbag, it was claimed.

The jewellery included a gold wedding ring with her husband's initials engraved on it and the date of their marriage; a diamond solitaire gold ring; and a silver diamond ring.

Ms Seferian managed to raise the alarm and her son found her covered in blood and "almost unrecognisable" from her injuries.

A palm print was recovered from inside Ms Seferian's flat on a window frame where Weir allegedly broke in but it was not matched to the defendant until 2017, the court heard.

By 2018, the new DNA evidence in the Harris death had been obtained and the palm prints from both scenes had been matched to the defendant, jurors heard.

On his arrest, Weir claimed he had worked as a handyman at various properties but Mr Little said it was not a "credible" explanation for the scientific evidence.

The prosecutor told jurors they would have to consider the cause of the pensioners' deaths and Weir's potential claim the palm prints were "planted" by the police.

Mr Little said the notion police planted evidence in 1998 to fit up Weir nearly 20 years later was "bizarre" and defied "all common sense".

Weir has denied two charges of murder.