A burglar who murdered an elderly woman after he broke into her home then led police on a four hour manhunt across rooftops and through gardens in Croydon has been sentenced to life in prison.
Aaron Fyle, 29, of no fixed address, was convicted of the murder of Eulin Hastings, a 74-year-old retired nurse, after she was found dead in her home in Birchanger Road, Croydon.
Ms Hastings’ family said: “There is no waking from this nightmare it continues every moment – it disturbs our sleep and disrupts our daily lives.
“Our mother was a pillar within the community and spent her life helping others. She was loved by everyone who knew her.
“Mum worked as a midwife for over 30 years delivering 100s of babies at St Thomas’s and St George’s Hospitals. Our mother’s final moments will play on our minds and these thoughts will haunt us for the rest of our lives.
“Aaron Fyle you are a parasite who has preyed on vulnerable people who have worked hard for their possessions.
“We believe you to be an evil, monstrous individual who killed a defenceless elderly woman, our mother. You destroyed our family home and all our mother’s treasured belongings and possessions.
“You, Aaron Fyle, have destroyed our lives, you have taken away our beautiful mother and grandmother’s precious life, leaving us with only her badly burnt body lying naked on the floor of her home.”
The court heard how on January 10, 2017, a neighbour noticed smoke coming from Ms Hastings’ home and called the London Fire Brigade who found Ms Hastings lying in the hallway.
Ms Hastings was pronounced dead at the scene and after putting out the fire, firefighters noticed the house was showing signs of having been burgled.
Eulin’s bedroom had been ransacked and other rooms had been subjected to an untidy search, in the living room a coffee table had been smashed and a knife was found on the floor.
The house appeared to have been entered by someone who had broken the glass on the rear French doors with a stone or rock. The doors were then opened by a key that had been left in the lock.
A post-mortem found the cause of death to be a traumatic head injury, and the number of injuries Ms Hastings received could not have happened from a fall. There was also no evidence that Ms Hastings had been breathing when the fire started.
On the same day that Ms Hastings was killed, a burglary was reported in nearby Davidson Road.
A woman was at home when she saw a burglar forcing entry into the rear of her home. The woman fled the house with her young child and called the police.
Police chased the burglar, who was armed with a knife, across rooftops and through gardens when he was eventually arrested with the help of a negotiator.
Prolific burglar jailed for 31 years after bludgeoning retired midwife and setting her body and home alight. #WATCH | The callous burglar attempted to flee across rooftops and through gardens to evade police.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) January 13, 2020
The burglar destroyed his mobile phone and only after the intervention of a trained negotiator did he surrender himself when he was subsequently arrested by police for the burglary at Davidson Road. He gave a false name, but was later identified as Aaron Fyle.
Fyle was then arrested on suspicion of the murder of Eulin Hastings as Davidson Road and Birchanger Road are less than a mile apart.
Detectives located CCTV that showed Fyle walking in the direction of Birchanger Road at 1:31pm and walking away from Birchanger Road at 2:46pm.
Later CCTV evidence then placed Fyle at Davidson Road at around 3:07pm, where he had been seen by the occupier to force entry into the premises.
A mobile phone that Fyle had attempted to destroy was recovered and it showed he had been in the area around Birchanger Road around the time the fire started.
DNA evidence from Fyle was recovered from underneath Ms Hastings’ fingernails and her DNA was found on the jacket Fyle was wearing when he was arrested.
Using a stone to gain entry is one that has been used by Fyle in some of his many previous burglaries.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Leonard, of Specialist Crime (Homicide), said: “Eulin Hastings was a retired nurse, well liked in the local community and an active member of the church.
“Her life had been spent looking after others and it is tragic that such a caring person should have been murdered in her own home, a place where she should have been safe.
“In contrast Fyle is a serial offender with an horrendous criminal record. This predator roamed the streets browsing homes to identify targets for larceny.
“He was a prolific offender and, after committing an offence would carry on roaming the streets looking for the next target to burgle.
“I have no doubt he burgled this poor woman’s home, fatally assaulted her and then set her home on fire to cover up his actions. It shows the depth of this man’s depravity that just a short while later, he was burgling another home.
“Fyle has shown no remorse whatsoever and I am thankful that he has been convicted and the long sentence is fully justified.”
On January 10 at the Old Bailey, Fyle was sentenced to serve 31 years in prison.