Saturday 17 November 2018
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Cornwall care home murder accused had 'fascination with fire'

A care home worker accused of murdering an elderly resident in an arson attack had a "fascination with fire" which began when she saved her family from a blaze as a child, a court has heard.

Gladys Rowe, 96, died in a fire in her bedroom at Rosewyn House in Truro, Cornwall in 2008.

Karen Pedley, 43, from Carharrack denies murder and 13 counts of arson.

She also denies the attempted murder of resident Olive Ray, aged in her 70s, who shared the bedroom with Mrs Rowe.

Truro Crown Court heard the defendant won a trip on Concorde after rescuing her family from a house fire, but went on to carry out a "systematic string" of arson attacks.

She denies 13 arson attacks in Cornwall between 2002 and 2010, including two at Rosewyn.

Among the charges were alleged blazes at her sister's home and her neighbour's address.

Nigel Lickley, prosecuting, said all the fires apart from the house fires were in places where she worked and some were a "reaction to apparent criticism".

"Investigators were misled," said Mr Lickley, adding that in the case of one fire a colleague was forced to lie under the threat of having her home burned down.

'Adept at fire starting'

He told the court that Ms Pedley, Park Stenak, saved her family from a blaze when she was 10 years old.

"It appears that her fascination with fire started then," he said.

"She became adept at fire starting," he said, and used her "cunning and skill" to commit the alleged crimes.

Ms Pedley, who is being held in custody, is being tried in her absence.