Foster son of alleged murder victim Norma Bell tells of last visit to his 'much-appreciated' mum

Norma Bell
Norma Bell

A foster son of alleged murder victim Norma Bell has told a jury of the last time he saw his mother alive.

John Ahmed said had he known it was the last time he would speak to Mrs Bell he would have told her much she had done for him and how much he appreciated it.

Mrs Bell, 79, was allegedly murdered by Gareth Dack, who later set her house in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, on fire.

The fire was discovered on the morning of Sunday, April 3, last year.

A jury at Teesside Crown Court heard Mr Ahmed was one of several family members who had visited Mrs Bell on Saturday, April 2.

Prosecutor Christopher Tehrani QC said Mr Ahmed was the last person known to have seen Mrs Bell alive.

In a statement read to the jury, Mr Ahmed said: "My partner had arranged for a Chinese takeaway for us on that Saturday night to be picked up at about 7.15pm.

"I told her I would call in to see my mam on the way to get it.

"On my way to her house on Westbourne Road I picked up some chips for her, I sometimes did that as a surprise.

"When I arrived, I rang the bell, but could get no answer.

"Mam was hard of hearing and sometimes didn't hear the bell, so I rang her number and she came to the door.

"When I left a short time later to get the Chinese, mam was fine."

The court heard phone records showed Mr Ahmed's call to his mother to get her to answer the door was made at 7.32pm.

Norma Bell's body was found in her burning house at about 8.20am the next morning.

Dack was implicated after his DNA was found on several items in the house.

The 33-year-old, of Windermere Road, Hartlepool, denies murder and arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.

Proceeding