10 days before, Hilda had left her front door open as she was busy cooking. Two black men walked in and, when Hilda tried to fend them off with her stick, she was punched repeatedly and kicked in the face after she fell to the floor. After they searched her property the men left with her handbag. Hilda was later discovered with her face 'covered in blood' by her son.
Elroy Simmonds was known for knocking on the doors of elderly people claiming to be from the council. He would then force his way in to their homes and demand money. The police would find Hilda's blood on
In court, he denied Hilda's murder. He also denied robbing 12 other pensioners around the same time. However, in November 2004, he was found guilty and he was jailed for life. Judge Stephen Kramer said:
"You did not use weapons, you did not need to. You terrified each of them. It might be said, in view of your targets, it was only a matter of time before you killed one of your victims. You are a danger, particularly to the old and the vulnerable, and a devious and scheming young man. You have shown no remorse and no regret at any stage."The court heard how Simmonds began his criminal career aged 14 robbing schoolchildren in South London. In 1996, he was jailed for six years for raping a 49-year-old woman with 'learning difficulties.'
One of Simmon's previous victims was 74-year-old Mary Hammond. Mary told the court how Simmonds and an accomplice barged into her flat. She said:
"He was saying 'I want twenties, I'm only here for the twenties. He pulled my panic alarm from around my neck and pushed me to the floor. While I was on the floor he kicked me in the stomach."Detective Superintendent Gary Richardson said:
"Elroy Simmonds targeted the most vulnerable people in the community, elderly people, mostly women living alone, which tells you what kind of a man he is. He was after easy cash. I've no doubt whatsoever that the streets of South London are a safer place with him behind bars."Detective Chief Inspector Tim Redmond, of the Met's Serious Crimes Directorate said:
"This was a disgusting attack on an 81-year-old woman in her own home. Hilda Ashdown has died prematurely for the sake of a few pounds."Hilda Ashdown and the brute that ended her life are seen below.