A jury in the murder trial of Gareth Dack heard a man was seen carrying a television in the street similar to one stolen from Norma Bell.
Carer Amanda Reeve contacted police after reading in the Hartlepool Mail that a boxed television had been taken from the home of Mrs Bell around the time she was allegedly murdered.
Ms Reeve saw the man at around 9.15pm on the evening of April 2 last year, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Mrs Bell, 79, was last seen alive by a member of her family at her home in Westbourne Road about an hour earlier.
“I saw the person walking in Blakelock Road,” said Ms Reeve in a statement read to the jury.
“He had a television on his shoulder, it was in a white box similar to the picture of the television I had seen on the Hartlepool Mail website.
“I didn’t pay much attention to the man, the television box had the screen size written on the corner.
“It didn’t occur to me it might have been stolen, I just thought it was a bit late to be going to Tesco to buy a television.”
Mrs Bell was in the habit of writing notes to herself as reminders, the court heard.
A note with the name Wendy and a mobile phone number was found by police when they searched the garage at Dack’s parents’ house, also in Westbourne Road.
Christopher Tehrani QC told the jury Wendy was Mrs Bell’s mobile hairdresser, and Mrs Bell was due to have her bi-monthly haircut around the time of her death.
Veronica Turner, who was fostered by Mrs Bell and continued to visit her as an adult, said she had seen the note and was certain it was in Mrs Bell’s handwriting.
The jury heard that during the morning and afternoon of April 2, Dack’s girlfriend Charlotte Stokes made numerous attempts to contact him via telephone and Facebook, most of which he ignored.
One of the messages from Ms Stokes told Dack that a man called Dean was going to kill him and that he (Dack) should sort it out.
Dack and Ms Stokes met twice in pubs in Hartlepool during the day and early evening.
In a statement, Ms Stokes said the last she saw of Dack that day was when he left her house at about 8.30pm.
The body of Mrs Bell was pulled from her burning house about 12 hours later.
Dack, 33, of Windermere Road, Hartlepool, denies murder and arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.