Man accused of murdering shopkeeper was suffering from drug-induced amnesia at time of attack, court told

Judith Ducker died 50 days after suffering serious head injuries during a robbery at Wellgate News in Wellgate, Rotherham
Judith Ducker died 50 days after suffering serious head injuries during a robbery at Wellgate News in Wellgate, Rotherham

A heroin addict accused of robbing and murdering an elderly Rotherham shop-keeper cannot remember the day of the alleged attack due to suffering from drug-induced amnesia, a court has heard.

It is alleged that Storm Blueitt, 36, hit 64-year-old Judith Ducker over the head repeatedly while she was behind the counter at Wellgate News in Wellgate, Rotherham at around 11am on September 1 last year, before making away with around £40 from the till.

He said: “A customer found Ms Ducker in quite a state. She was no longer wearing a wig. It was clear she had suffered numerous injuries. There was a lot of blood.”

Ms Ducker, who was suffering from terminal breast cancer at the time of the attack, suffered a fractured skull and a fractured eye socket in the attack and died in hospital on October 20.

During the opening of the trial today, prosecutor Nicholas Campbell, told the court it is the Crown’s case that Ms Ducker was not able to have essential cancer treatment as a result of the serious head injuries she suffered in the attack which would have extended her life.

Mr Campbell told jurors that the Crown must prove that the injuries inflicted by Blueitt, of Cambridge Crescent, Rotherham were a contributing factor in her death in order to convict him of murder.

He added that it was not necessary for the Crown to prove that Blueitt intended to kill her, or that the injuries she is alleged to have suffered at his hands were her only cause of death.

When Blueitt was arrested he refused to answer any questions relating to the attack but had subsequently told the court he could not remember any of the events of September 1, said Mr Campbell.

He added: “This is because of the amnesia he asserts he was suffering from on a daily basis as a result of not taking drugs that had been prescribed for him and taking other drugs that had not been prescribed.”

Mr Campbell told jurors that they were due to hear evidence from Blueitt’s friend, John Brittle, who said that Blueitt was a heroin addict who was taking both heroin and methadone in the run up to the attack.

He said it is the Crown’s case that Blueitt robbed the newsagents, which Ms Ducker ran with her brother for around 20 years, with the intention of stealing enough money for his next heroin fix.

Blueitt denies one count of murder and one count of robbery.

The trial continues.

Graham Pearce of KPMG

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