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Rose Coleman: handyman jailed for life for murdering 85-year-old in Rise Park

A handyman has been jailed for life after murdering to killing 85-year-old Rose Coleman in Rise Park.

Paul Prause attacked the great-grandmother with a hammer at her home in Ashmour Gardens on Tuesday, 15 May.

He then staged a burglary and called police saying he’d found Rose’s body.

The 65 year-old, of Browne Close, Havering Park, was later arrested and told officers the pensioner made him angry so he attacked her.

Prause pleaded guilty to Rose’s murder this morning at a plea trial at the Old Bailey.

He will serve a minimum of 22 years in imprisonment.

Emergency services rushed to Rosina’s home when Prause rang for an ambulance, saying Rose had been assaulted, there was blood everywhere and she was not breathing. 

Paramedics found Rose on her bedroom floor, with injuries to her head, neck and right hand. They tried to resuscitate her but she was already dead.

Police arrived and saw the bedroom was messy and appeared to have been ransacked with drawers pulled out and emptied and wardrobes open. Items were piled up on the bed and a suitcase on the floor next to Rose was also open. There was no sign of forced entry to the property but the rear patio doors were open.

Officers spoke to Prause, who said he had known Rose between five and seven years and did the gardening and odd jobs for her every fortnight.

Rosina’s home in Ashmour Gardens as police investigated her death.

Prause said he had arrived at the bungalow at around 8.30am and got no answer. He thought Rose may be in the bath and left to complete another job, returning at around 10.30am When he again got no response, he claimed he became concerned and said he used a side door key he had to get inside.

He claimed he called out Rose’s name as he made his way round the property before finding her in the bedroom and ringing for help.

A post-mortem examination revealed Rose had died from head and neck injuries after being attacked with a blunt weapon.

A murder investigation was launched and detectives began to look more closely at Prause’s account.

They discovered he had been in Chadwell Heath fixing a washing machine between 8.30-9am, the same time he claimed to be knocking at Rose’s door.

CCTV footage seized revealed Prause’s car had been in Ashmour Gardens three times that morning, firstly at 9.12am and then on the second occasion for over an hour and a half between 9.23-11am. By the time he was caught on CCTV for a third time, just before he called 999, he had changed his clothing.

After completing the job in Chadwell Heath, Prause had visited a DIY store in Romford at 9.05am to buy a packet of latex gloves. 

A blood-stained piece of glove found out Rose’s home was later submitted for DNA testing and produced two profiles; one belonged to Rose and the second was found to be a match for Prause.

A search of his car found the opened packet of latex gloves with two missing.

Prause was arrested on Friday, 18 May and interviewed three times. He initially said he had been muddled over his timings when he first spoke to officers at the scene but could not account for why he was in the Ashmour Gardens for more than an hour-and-a-half that morning.

In his final interview he said, as he was leaving Rose’s home, she had made a jokey comment about him needing to grow up and it had made him angry.

He reacted by hitting her repeatedly with a hammer he had in his hand that he’d previously left at her address and had been taking with him to do another job.

Prause then admitted staging the bedroom to look like a burglary, stealing a small amount of money and some jewellery.

He went home and changed and threw his clothing, as well as most of the stolen jewellery believed to be of no or little value, and the hammer, in the River Rom.

The hammer Prause used to kill Rose

He said he had kept one diamond ring, hiding it in his shed. Officers subsequently searched the shed and found the ring, worth £7,000. His clothing and the murder weapon were also later recovered from the river.

Prause was charged on Saturday, 21 May.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Considine said: “Rosina, known to her friends and family as Rose, was the victim of a despicable and ruthless murder by someone she trusted to enter her home to carry out work.

“Prause pretended he had just come across this terrible crime when in reality he was Rose’s attacker. He lied to officers until the evidence caught him out and he was forced to admit he had hit her repeatedly with a hammer.

“In interview he said he became angry after she made a jokey comment to him but the police investigation and the prosecution maintain that his motive that day was to steal Rose’s precious jewellery and when she confronted him he murdered her.

“Rose has been described to my investigation team as a well-respected and independent lady who liked gardening and making dresses and attended the Royal British Legion club on Saturday nights. Our deepest sympathies go out to her family who continue to deal with this tragic loss.

“We hope this sentence provides some closure for Rose’s relatives and friends and Paul Prause has plenty of time to think about his actions in prison where he belongs.”

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