Yvonne Caylor 'killed half-sister Nikki Collingbourne in Letchworth after being charged with burgling her flat and trying to cover it up'
PUBLISHED: 09:25 22 November 2016 | UPDATED: 12:39 22 November 2016
A woman killed her half-sister in Letchworth after being charged with burgling her flat and attempting to pervert the course of justice, a court heard yesterday.
The relationship between 53-year-old Yvonne Caylor and her much younger half-sister Nicola ‘Nikki’ Collingbourne – who shared the same father – deteriorated during time they spent living together in the United States and Letchworth, prosecutor John Price QC said at Luton Crown Court.
Nikki evicted Ms Caylor from her flat in Ivel Court on Letchworth’s Jackmans estate in October 2015, Mr Price said – and this, he alleged, led to Ms Caylor burgling the flat, trying to cover it up and ultimately killing Nikki on May 23.
Ms Caylor, of Grove Road in Hitchin, is accused of disguising herself with a wig, fake goatee beard and heavy-framed glasses before killing Nikki – who was 26 years old – with a chicken-shaped casserole pot in the kitchen of the Ivel Court flat.
Mr Price told how Ms Caylor had spent many years in the US, and that Nikki had herself lived there from September 2011 to August 2012, for a time living with her half-sister.
“That doesn’t seem to have been a particularly successful arrangement,” Mr Price told the jury of seven men and five women.
“When, in June last year, this defendant arrived in the UK from the US, for a short time she lived with Nikki in her flat at Ivel Court.”
Mr Price suggested that Ms Caylor would have become familiar with the building’s layout, which he said was relevant as an intruder seen on CCTV footage seemed to be aware of the cameras.
The co-habitation ended abruptly, he said, on the night of October 3 last year, when there was a row and ‘to put it bluntly, Nikki evicted the defendant from the flat’.
“The police became involved because this defendant contacted the police that evening to complain that she had been assaulted by Nikki Collingbourne,” said Mr Price.
“We would suggest that this was a bogus complaint based upon an exaggerated account of what had taken place between them – but the police were required to investigate and Nikki was arrested at 12.07am on Sunday morning, October 4.
“She was interviewed by police about this allegation of assault on Sunday afternoon and at the end of that process she was released on police bail.
“She got home that evening at about 8pm and discovered that while she’d been in custody, it appeared that someone had entered her flat and that property of hers had been removed. She noticed signs of fresh damage to the main door frame.
“Given what had just happened, not unreasonably she suspected that this defendant might be responsible.”
Nikki made a formal complaint of burglary on October 6 last year, accusing Ms Caylor – who was promptly arrested on suspicion of burglary after Nikki spotted her in the car park.
Ms Caylor denied any involvement, but police enquiries revealed a phone linked with her had contacted a locksmith called Barry Crosby.
Mr Price said: “On the afternoon of Sunday, October 4, Mr Crosby had attended the flat in Ivel Court with a ‘lady customer’ and, at her behest, forced the door. This is while Nikki Collingbourne is in police custody.”
Mr Crosby picked Ms Caylor out from an identity parade on December 30, 2015, Mr Price said.
The prosecutor said that Ms Caylor had then attempted to pervert the course of justice by having Nikki’s mother Rena Hibbert-Jones lie to the police.
“Ms Hibbert-Jones told officers that on the afternoon of October 6 – the afternoon that Nikki complained of burglary – Yvonne Caylor phoned and, according to Ms Hibbert-Jones, urged her to give a false account about the ownership of some of the property taken from that flat.
“Investigations reveal that it was Yvonne Caylor who made that call.”
Ms Caylor repeated this offence in November 2015, Mr Price said, phoning Nikki in breach of bail conditions and saying ‘We need to talk’ before Nikki hung up.
Mr Price said: “Nikki Collingbourne reported this incident to the police.
“We submit that these were both serious offences – breaking into another person’s home, and then, in effect, trying to cover it up.”
Ms Caylor, who denies making either of these calls, was charged with burglary and attempting to pervert the course of justice on January 8 this year.
After she entered not guilty pleas at Cambridge Crown Court on April 8, the trial was scheduled to start at any time in the eight weeks starting from May 23 – the day of Nikki’s death.
Mr Price said: “That she was murdered on that day is, we submit, no coincidence.”
The court heard that relatives first became concerned about Nikki when she failed to collect her mother Rena Hibbert-Jones from Stevenage’s Lister Hospital – where she had been receiving treatment – on May 23.
Rena suffered from a severe respiratory condition, and Nikki was active in helping care for her. Rena has died since Nikki’s death.
Ms Caylor denies murder. The case continues.