The Vincentian man who was tried in England for the murder of a 71-year-old woman, has been convicted while his girlfriend was freed after a trial in which they blamed each other for the killing.
Xyaire Howard, 23, will be sentenced on Dec. 8 for the September 2022 murder of Susan Hawkey, a retiree, whose house was stuffed with the items that she hoarded.
His girlfriend, Chelsea Grant, 28, who is also Vincentian, was found not guilty of murder.
However, both Howard and Grant each pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud, and were convicted of one count of attempted robbery, for which they will also be sentenced on Dec. 8.
Grant was convicted of three counts of robbery while Howard was convicted of one charge of robbery.
He admitted a second count of robbery and was cleared of a third.
Police found next to the murdered woman’s body a condom containing both Howard’s semen and Grant’s DNA.
However, Grant told the court her DNA was on the condom because she and Howard had sex regularly and he never showered.
Howard admitted tying Hawkey up with tape but said he left her alive and well.
Grant became pregnant with Howard’s child during the time they were preying on Hawkey and she gave birth to a baby boy while in custody in May.
The trial heard that the couple had first robbed Hawkey in the street then continued to prey on her in her home before Howard tied her up with tape and his shoelaces and forced her to give him her PIN number.
He then strangled her to death with another shoelace and left her body in her home to rot while he and Grant went on a shopping spree, spending over three weeks the 13,000 pounds that their victim had in her bank account.
The accused both denied the murder charge but a jury convicted Howard after the trial.
“After the defendants had obtained both her debit card and her PIN, they went on a spending spree, spending thousands of pounds on luxury goods for themselves, including perfume, designer goods, a new television, portable speakers, telephones and accessories, clothing, shoes, sunglasses, watches and handbags,” the prosecutor, Prosecutor Annabel Darlow told the court.
Howard and Grant made 146 different transactions with Hawkey’s card.
By Sept. 19, there were Google searches on Grant’s phone for “decomposition scent”, “how long does a dead body smell”, “How do neighbours smell dead bodies through entire walls from outside and in other houses?” and “Is a dead body a very strong smell”.
She told the court that Howard had made some of these searches.
The trial further heard that on Sept. 22, Howard searched the internet for safety coveralls, Hazmat coveralls and full protective respirator masks.
Hawkey’s body was discovered on Sept. 26 when a concerned neighbour noticed she had not put her bins out.
Police found Hawkey’s body lying on a sofa underneath a duvet. She had been bound, blindfolded with tape and still had a shoelace around her neck.
“All of her lower clothing, that is her trousers and underwear had been removed — all she was wearing was a top and that top had been cut down the front,” the prosecutor said.
“An item of clothing had been placed over her head and her body was under a duvet that was found over her corpse.
“A used condom was found which contained Mr. Howard’s semen and cellular material from Ms Grant –and that was found in the same room as her body together with an opened condom wrapper which bore Mr. Howard’s finger prints,” Darlow told the jury.
“The ligature around Ms Hawkey’s neck had been tightened with sufficient force to break one of the bones in her neck.
“She was strangled by one of these defendants in an attack motivated purely by greed and self interest.
“They wanted to stop Ms Hawkey so they could spend her money at will. They wanted to stop Ms Hawkey ringing the police,” the prosecutor said.
Police arrested Howard and Grant outside a store where the murdered woman’s card was repeatedly used. They were waiting for a bus at the time.
Grant had Hawkey’s card and 1,600 in cash and at her home, police found a laptop computer that had been stolen from the care home where Grant was working.
Before the crime, Grant and Howard had been living at various addresses and were often thrown out for not paying the rent.
Grant first mugged their victim on July 27 last year, wrenching her bag from her shoulder and the couple knocked her to the ground near her home on Aug. 22.
Grant told the court she was not at the home when her boyfriend killed Hawkey and she did not know if she was dead.
She said her boyfriend had later asked her to stand outside the house and “sniff” to see if she could smell a dead body.
Grant made headlines in St. Vincent in August 2019, when she was convicted of a charge that on Sept. 21, 2018, at Kingstown, she assaulted Angelique Fitzpatrick, of Cane Garden, causing actual bodily harm.
Then Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett urged her to change her ways before joining the British Navy.
The magistrate told Grant that he initially thought that her pregnancy might have contributed to her actions. “But from what I saw in the courtroom during the trial, I was wrong in that opinion,” Burnett said.
iWitness News understands that Grant’s stint in the Navy might have been affected by an injury that she sustained.
iWitness News was reliably informed that a media worker in St. Vincent filed a report with police in February 2022 after receiving a WhatsApp voice note from Grant containing a perceived threat.
Grant is said to have sent the voice note as she contested the contents of a news article that was unrelated to her.
“… the only thing I saying is–” Grant said and paused as a male voice said, “Watch yo back soldier”.
Grant then laughs and said, “yo cyah tell ye man dem ting dey” and continued to laugh.
This article contains material from a MailOnline article that can be read here.