Couple guilty of murdering homeless woman and claiming her benefits

The defendants 'preyed upon' the vulnerable victim

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

A couple have been found guilty of murdering a homeless woman, who they drowned in their bath, before claiming almost £5,000 of her benefits.

Kevin Flanagan, 39, and girlfriend Kathleen Salmond, 40, were charged with killing 39-year-old Lisa Bennett after Flanagan’s brother told police his sibling had confessed the crime.

Ms Bennett, who had become homeless, was last seen at a chemist in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham on May 9 2013. She relied on the pharmacy for medication as a recovering drug addict.

West Midlands Police said the couple befriended Ms Bennett and allowed her to stay in their Birmingham flat.

On May 22 the victim’s mother reported her missing after she suspected that someone was pretending to be Ms Bennett in text messages.

Lisa Bennett was a recovering drug addict "trying to turn her life around"

A missing person’s investigation revealed that Ms Bennett’s benefits were being paid into Salmond’s bank account.

The Department of Work and Pensions confirmed that Salmond had called twice, once the victim was missing, to change the bank account and allow her to receive the benefits – she reaped a total of £4,979 from the scam.

The couple drowned Ms Bennett in the bath; “callously” dumped her body in a wheelie bin and the remains were subsequently “incinerated” at a community waste facility, according to prosecutor Simon Denison QC.

When questioned over the disappearance, the pair “calmly” told police Miss Bennett was “alive and well” and that she had asked them to transfer her benefits into Salmond's account.

The defendants also claimed a fictitious boyfriend of Miss Bennett's, who they named Ian, was collecting the cash each week.

In addition to the murder, Salmond was convicted of benefit fraud and preventing Ms Bennett's burial, which she had previously admitted.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Munro said the pair had “preyed on a vulnerable woman who was trying to turn her life around”, adding: “they abused the trust she put in them”.

“We believe they were motivated by greed and the money they could get from Lisa’s benefits. They have still shown no remorse for what they have done."

Flanagan and Salmond will be sentenced on Friday.

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