Rosina Coleman: Romford family ‘devasted’ as debt-ridden gardener jailed for life over ‘despicable and ruthless murder’
- Credit: Archant
The brutal murder of an 85-year-old great-grandmother bludgeoned to death in her Romford home by a debt-ridden gardener has left a “hole in her family that will never ever be filled”.
That is what Sharon Thomas said after her mum’s murderer, Paul Prause, 65, of no fixed abode but from the Romford area, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 22 years at the Old Bailey today (November 16).
Prause used a hammer to strike Rosina Coleman - just 4ft 11in tall and 8.9 stone - 11 times in the bedroom of her home, in Ashmour Gardens, on May 15 this year.
“We as a family are lost without our queen,” Sharon Thomas said, following sentencing.
“Our family has been devastated by the brutal murder of our beautiful, caring 85-year-old mum, nan and great nan,”
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“She loved life and had a until her death she still had plenty of plans to travel.”
Prause, of no fixed abode, called police claiming he had found Mrs Coleman’s body at her home at 11.30am on May 15.
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As the police arrived he told them “you don’t go out to work expecting this”, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson told the court.
Prause told the police, when interviewed under caution on May 18, that he travelled to her home “to do some gardening”, entering her bedroom after he shouted out for her but received no response.
But when interviewed again the following day, he told officers he killed after she called him a “sod” and told him to “grow up” as they chatted over a cup of tea.
He had been “walking round a little while now angry” due to breaking down relationships and financial issues, he told them.
“And if it weren’t Rose that day somebody else would have got it.”
He then “ransacked” her blood-soaked bedroom in a bid to stage an aggravated burglary.
However, Mr Atkinson put forward the case that Prause murdered Mrs Coleman while trying to rob her and settle his gambling debts.
“He and his partner were both regular gamblers attending a number of casinos in Southend where he liked to use the slot machines,” he said.
His partner discovered, following his arrest, that Prause had borrowed significant sums of money - including £1,500 from neighbour Sidney Sloman.
After confessing to police, Prause took officers to the River Rom, south of Cornel Way, where had stashed a black jewellery box in the water.
CCTV evidence also showed Prause purchased latex gloves from a DIY store in Romford, suggesting he planned to take part in some “acquisitive activity” at her address on that day.
When his address was searched, a white gold diamond ring, with a retail value of up to £7,000 was found on top of a brick inside the garage.
Sentencing Judge Katz said: “The murder took place within the victim’s home to which you had a key to let yourself in at will.
“There were at least 11 blows with severe force and you were conscious enough to stage a burglary too.
“You stole her jewellery - that was despicable conduct.”
The judge also read aloud extracts of victim statements from Rosina’s relatives.
Her son Robert Thomas said: “Our mum let someone she trusted into her home and he became like a family member to her over the years.
“This is what makes this so hard to understand and why as a family we question if there is anything we could have done?”
Prause, bald and wearing a blue checked shirt and grey jumper, remained dead pan during sentencing while group of around 10 family members and friends wept in the public gallery.
Speaking outside the Old Bailey, Det Ch Insp Paul Considine said: “This was a despicable and ruthless murder.
“Paul Prause pretended he was innocent and lied repeatedly to officers until the evidence caught him out.
“She loved gardening and making dresses and attended the Royal British Legion club on Saturday nights.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to her family.
“We hope this sentence provides some comfort to her family and friends.
“Paul Prause has plenty of time to think about his actions behind bars.