Man accused of murdering Lewes mother bludgeoned his own dog, court hears

Richard Canlin, 42, is on trial at Hove Crown Court accused of killing Nicola Stevenson, 39, with a claw hammer and dumping her body in a wheelie bin in undergrowth on the edge of the recreation ground off Landport Road, Lewes. Following a successful bad character application by prosecution, the court heard today that Mr Canlin was convicted of killing his Staffordshire bull terrier, Daisy, in 2013. On June 12, 2012, the dog’s body was found by Mr Canlin’s support worker, in a holdall, in the cellar of a property in which Mr Canlin was living, the court was told.

Richard Canlin outside court

When interviewed by RSPCA officers Mr Canlin claimed Daisy had been run over by a truck.

The dog’s injuries were examined by a veterinary pathologist, who found there were multiple bruises around the dog’s face and head, with a large bruise to the temporal region, the court heard. The court was told that the dog had multiple fractures, which, in the view of the pathologist were sustained on three separate occasions as a result of significant trauma. The conclusion of the veterinary pathologist was that possible causes of these injuries include kicking or hitting with a blunt instrument, the court heard.

Richard Canlin outside court

The injuries detected were not consistent with a fatal road traffic accident.

Mr Canlin pleaded guilty to causing the injuries to Daisy, the court was told. The court also heard that Mr Canlin admitted causing unnecessary suffering to another Staffordshire bull terrier called Leyla by inflicting trauma to the animal’s head. He also had convictions for criminal damage and abusive behaviour.

Nicola was found with numerous skull and face fractures and a fracture to her neck, the court heard.

Nicola Stevenson. Picture: Sussex Police

A post-mortem found she died as a result of a blunt force trauma to her head, with at least 11 wounds to her head consistent with being hit with a hammer. Forensic evidence showed a hammer found in a bin outside Nicola’s flat matched the injuries to her head, the court heard today.

Mr Canlin denies murder. The trial continues

A claw hammer recovered by police. Picture: Sussex PoliceNicola’s body was found among bedding in a wheelie bin in Lewes.

Picture: Sussex PolicePolice at the scene of the crime investigation at Landport Recreation Ground in Lewes.

Picture: Peter Cripps

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