A "ROTTEN" financial adviser - described as being like the Tricky Dicky character in TV's Coronation Street - seduced an elderly spinster to con her out of £280,000, then murdered her when she asked for the money back, a court heard yesterday.
Peter Crittenden, now 64, saw himself as "the top man" in retirement financial advice and was described by his bosses as "a workaholic who has the drive and motivation of someone half his age", Chester Crown Court heard.
But Lord Carlile QC, prosecuting, described him as "rotten to the core" and compared him to Richard Hillman, the murderous financial adviser on TV soap Coronation Street.
Crittenden, a father-of-three from Worcester, denies murdering 71-year-old Joan Beddeson in November 2002 by smothering her with a pillow at her home in Macclesfield, Cheshire.
He also denies three counts of theft from her, amounting to £279,250.
Opening the prosecution, Lord Carlile told how Crittenden was appointed as Miss Beddeson's financial adviser after she answered an advertisement in The Times.
The ad was placed by Young Ridgeway & Associates, who paid Crittenden on a commission basis, from which he earned around £70,000 per year.
Crittenden did not tell the firm he was acting on behalf of Miss Beddeson and there was no suggestion his bosses knew of his alleged scam.
Miss Beddeson, a retired tax inspector, had a net worth of more than £500,000 but was described as "lonely, and vulnerable to personal financial advice".
Crittenden allegedly killed Miss Beddeson by sneaking into her bungalow in Macclesfield, Cheshire, and smothering her with a pillow while she lay in bed in the early hours of November 15,
2002. Miss Beddeson was found after worried neighbours alerted police.
Officers found a letter in her home in which Miss Beddeson had tried to end her personal and financial relationship.
It read: "Peter, I want to say something to you. I won't be seeing you any more because it's upsetting me being deceitful and telling lies.
"It isn't getting us anywhere ... so will you please wind up all my money."
The prosecution also claimed Crittenden used similar methods to con another woman, Gwyneth Griffiths, after meeting her in 1990, when she was 60.
Lord Carlile said Miss Griffiths survived because, unlike Miss Beddeson, she did not demand her money back.
Miss Griffiths will give evidence during the prosecution case, which is expected to last one month.
The trial, which is expected to last two months, was adjourned until today.