Nurse's neighbour tells of 'banging noise' in middle of the night, murder trial hears

A neighbour of a retired nurse who disappeared from her home told jurors of hearing a "banging noise’ coming from the property.

Retired nurse Judy Fox died in July last year
Retired nurse Judy Fox died in July last year

The partial remains of grandmother Judith Fox were found in woodland next to the River Severn, off The Lloyds at Coalport, near Ironbridge in July last year.

Her daughter Lucy Fox, of Bernard’s Hill, Bridgnorth, allegedly attacked the 65-year-old – a company nurse at the Shropshire Star and Express & Star for 13 years – at her Shifnal home before dumping the remains the previous month.

Giving evidence James Hargreaves yesterday told the hearing at Stafford Crown Court that he had lived next door to Mrs Fox, known as Judy, and that his family were disturbed by noises in the early hours of June 13.

"My children were woken up at 1.30 in the morning. They had independently both been listening to loud banging and after about 15 minutes they decided to come and wake me up. We sat and listened for quite a while in my bedroom.

"It was a loud rythmical type of bang. There were five or six strikes then a pause, then more rythmical banging.

"The children were quite disturbed and thought someone was breaking in. It was in the middle of the night," Mr Hargreaves said.

Prosecuting barrister Mr Kevin Hegarty QC asked him: "Where was the noise coming from?"

Mr Hargreaves replied: "I could feel it in my sternum. It appeared to come from Judy's house which was in darkness. There were no lights on. It was a heavy sound like some kind of construction or demolition. I've live there for 13 years and never heard noise coming from her house."

He told the jury that he went into the garden and listened for about 15 minutes before returning indoors. He said the noise did not sound as if it was coming from the victim's kitchen and he did not see any movement inside.

Judy Fox's neighbour gave evidence in court

He also said that he noticed a scratch on the driver's side of Mrs Fox's car following the incident.

Her disappearance was discovered following a fire at the home of her son Nicholas in Apley Park near Bridgnorth, allegedly started by the defendant in the early hours of June 14.

The jury was shown footage of the mother-of-three's visit to Shifnal's One Stop store along with car trips undertaken by Lucy Fox captured by security cameras in the area.

These included images of a person arriving at the defendant's brother's address in a dark coloured vehicle at about 1.30am on June 14. The figure, carrying a bag, can be seen getting out of the vehicle and walking towards the house and then departing shortly after 2am after setting fire to a doormat which triggered the smoke alarm.

The jury has heard that Fox stabbed her mother to death because she was upset that the family home, in Haughton Drive, in Shifnal, was being sold.

Fox is being tried in her absence after the court found she was "not fit to participate in the trial in any meaningful way" and is charged with murder and with arson with intent to endanger life.

The jury has heard that the case was not a standard jury trial and they were only required to determine whether Fox committed the acts and were not required to bring in verdicts of guilty.

The trial continues.

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