A yoga teacher has been found guilty of murdering her ex-police officer lodger – two decades after he killed his wife – after a jury rejected her claim she acted in self-defence.
Dawn Lewis, 53, was convicted of stabbing Glenn Richards, 61, to death at her home as she wanted to evict him.
The trial heard Mr Richards moved to Glastonbury after being released from prison for killing his former wife in 2011. She moved in with the defendant in August last year but prosecutors heard they would often argue and he would complain about her noise.
Giving evidence during her trial, Lewis claimed she feared for her life during a ‘struggle’ with the knife and claims he had tried to kill her. But after nearly nine hours of deliberations, the jury rejected her claim that she was only defending herself when she carried out the fatal stabbing in April. The guilty verdict was a majority one with 11-1 finding her guilty.
Dawn Lewis (left) was convicted of stabbing Glenn Richards (right) to death at her home as she wanted to evict him
The court previously heard how Mr Richards suffered five large stab wounds, two of which were ‘not survivable.’ She suffered three cuts to her thigh but one doctor told the trial her injuries ‘did not appear to fit the description of the attack’ and appeared ‘self-inflicted.’
As part of the trial, CCTV footage was shown of the moment Lewis was arrested in her home on April 18 while Mr Richards was ‘unconscious’ and dying of his injuries.
Bristol Crown Court heard Mr Richards had been convicted of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility in 2002 for the killing of his ex wife.
Prosecutor Eloise Marshall told the jury they must decide if she acted in self-defence as per her emergency call ‘or whether her account was a lie to cover a planned attack and set the scene to pretend she’d been acting in self-defence?’
The verdict was returned after a trial at Bristol Crown Court.
Lewis had said she had become increasingly alarmed about her lodger’s behavour and begun carrying a knife as he started talking ‘in a different manner’ about the killing of his wife.
She said: ‘He started fantasising about how he would do it differently. He would just come out with it. I was terrified he was going to jump out and stab me.’
Lewis said on the day of the killing she was confronted with the defendant and claimed he had ‘lunged at me’ with a knife after she said she’d call the police.
She added: ‘He lunged at me and I saw he had a knife. I grabbed his arm. Then I bit him, he dropped the knife. He was going to kill me. I picked up the knife. I think at the time I thought I’d stabbed him in the stomach, but he was still holding on to me. I know I stabbed him, it was me, nobody else, I have to own that.’
Lewis told the jury he then tried to stab her again during a struggle and she shoved him with her foot and he fell down the stairs.
She told the court: ‘I wanted him to break a leg or be unconscious. I wanted him away. He was sitting at the bottom of the stairs looking up with a knife still in his hand. He was conscious and had the knife in his hand. He then slouched and the knife dropped. He cried out ”help me”.
‘He grabbed my ankle and I fell on my knees. He went for the knife but didn’t get it. So I grabbed it and stabbed him.’
Lewis phoned 999 to report the incident and the call was played to the jury.
When asked to say exactly what had happened by the call handler, she responds: ‘Right, I don’t know really what happened. He’s a lodger, I wanted to get him out. He said no.
‘I went to the door, he stabbed me in the leg, I took the knife off him, I stabbed him.
‘He fell down the stairs – I stabbed him again, as he was trying to take the knife of me. and I called you.’
Video footage played to the jury also showed the moment of her arrest as she screams to cops while being restrained on the floor: ‘Check my friend. I’m wounded but I’m not **** dead.’
Following the verdict, Lewis was remanded into custody pending a sentencing hearing at 10.30am today.
As part of the trial CCTV footage was shown of the moment Lewis was arrested in her home on April 18 while Mr Richards was ‘unconscious’ and dying of his injuries
During the trial, the court heard detectives became suspicious of her account after the doctor who treated her leg wounds suggested they appeared to be self-inflicted.
An associate of Lewis’ independently then informed officers she’d told him she wanted Mr Richards to move out of her house and described a video call with her just hours before the incident in which she’d showed him a knife. He described how, during the video call, Lewis spoke of stabbing Mr Richards in his bedroom before stabbing herself so she could claim self-defence.
Detectives also uncovered aggressive voicemails left by Lewis and text messages between the pair that cast doubt on her version of events.
After hearing all the evidence during a trial lasting three weeks, jurors rejected Lewis’ account and concluded she’d in fact planned to murder Mr Richards.
Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Neil Meade, the senior investigating officer, said: ‘Dawn Lewis claimed she feared Glenn Richards and was worried what he’d to do her as his mental health was deteriorating.
‘After deciding she no longer wanted him to lodge with her, she concocted a plan she thought would allow her to get away with his murder. She perhaps thought the witness who she revealed her plan to wouldn’t tell us of their conversation out of loyalty, but this belief was misguided.
‘The witnesses’ evidence, along with that of the doctor who treated Lewis at hospital, and the picture the text messages between her and Mr Lewis painted of their relationship, was compelling.
‘The jury had no choice in my mind but to reject Lewis’ lies and find her guilty of murder.’
DI Meade added: ‘Mr Richards had been estranged from his sons for a number of years but had recently begun to reconnect.
‘They were due to meet up in the near future but Lewis’ actions robbed them of this opportunity.
‘Specially trained family liaison officers have kept them informed throughout and our thoughts continue to be with them.’