A VULNERABLE woman was brutally battered to death with a claw hammer in a frenzied attack, a court heard.

Richard Canlin is accused of killing Nicola Stevenson in her flat in Stansfield Road in Lewes in October last year.

The body of 39-year-old Nicola was found on a recreation ground off the Landport estate in the town, dumped in a wheelie bin in undergrowth. Her body was badly decomposed, but she had suffered severe injuries to her head and neck, a court heard.

Inside her flat in Stansfield Road her blood was found spattered on the ceiling, walls, on a rolled up carpet, and on sheets found in a washing machine.

Canlin had applied to have her tenancy transferred to him, and bought himself a snooker table and Xbox with her bank card, a jury heard.

The 42-year-old had not reported her missing, and had lied to neighbours about her disappearance, claiming she had gone to Scotland.

At Hove Crown Court Caroline Carberry QC, prosecuting, said Canlin had been caught by Nicola stealing her medication.

She was diagnosed with a spine injury at birth and needed medication for Russell-Silver syndrome, a form of dwarfism. She was 4ft 9ins tall and required a mobility scooter to get around. Nicola had sent a message claiming she “wanted him (Canlin) out” to pal Nick Thompsett, and said Canlin had become “abusive”.

Ms Carberry QC told jurors that Nicola had contacted police with concerns about Canlin on October 10 last year.

On November 13 her body was found in the wheelie bin in undergrowth, and a murder inquiry was launched.

Police went to the property and found Canlin living there, apparently quite at ease. Nearby they found a claw hammer dumped in another wheelie bin with Canlin’s DNA and Nicola’s blood.

Ms Carberry QC said: “The body of Nicola Stevenson was found in undergrowth by a dog walker at the edge of a recreation ground off the Landport estate in Lewes. She had been killed in a brutal attack that left her with numerous facial fractures and neck fractures. Her body was in a state of decomposition.”

“The prosecution case is that this defendant, Richard Canlin, killed Nicola Stevenson in a frenzied attack with a hammer on Tuesday, October 10, about five weeks later.”

Canlin, of no fixed address, denies murder and the trial is expected to last two weeks at Hove Crown Court.