Norma Bell murder trial: Son said accused had been asking for money

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

Andrew Bell visited his mother on Saturday, April 2, the day before her body was pulled from her burning house in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool.

Mr Bell and other members of the family regularly visited Mrs Bell's five-bedroom terraced house on Saturdays, Teesside Crown Court heard.

In a statement read to the court, Mr Bell said: "My mother was very hard of hearing, I sometimes had to use my mobile at the front door to get her to answer it.

"While I was there on that Saturday, my brother David arrived with my sister-in-law Veronica.

"My mother made spaghetti on toast for David and herself, and I had soup."

The jury heard earlier Gareth Dack is accused of murdering Mrs Bell, whose body was discovered in her burning house on April 3.

The prosecution claim Dack was motivated by money, and took cash from Mrs Bell house before setting fire to her house.

More than £400 was found in the glovebox of Dack's car after he was arrested.

Andrew Bell said he had left £700 with his mother in an envelope.

"I was anticipating being declared bankrupt," he said. "I wanted some savings and left the money with my mother for safekeeping.

"I knew of Gareth Dack, but had never met him.

"My mother told me he had been asking her for money, he wanted £20 but she only gave him £10.

"I told her she should not have given him the money, but I think she knew that."

Dack, 33, of Windermere Road, Hartlepool, denies the murder of Mrs Bell, 79, and arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered between April 2 and 3.

* Proceeding.