Couple guilty of drowning homeless woman in bath before stealing £5,000 of her benefits

Jimmy Nsubuga
Kathleen Salmond and Kevin Flanagan are accused of murdering Lisa Bennett in Birmingham (SWNS)
Kathleen Salmond and Kevin Flanagan are accused of murdering Lisa Bennett in Birmingham (Picture: SWNS)

A couple who drowned a homeless woman in a bath and then fraudulently claimed nearly £5,000 of her benefits could be jailed for life.

Kevin Flanagan, 39, and Kathleen Salmond, 40, were convicted of the murder of 39-year-old housemate Lisa Bennett at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday following a four-week trial.

They killed the victim in a flat they shared in Weoley Castle, Birmingham, in May 2013, before dumping her body in a communal bin outside.

A court heard days later her remains were unwittingly taken away by refuse collectors and incinerated with other waste at a council disposal plant.

Lisa Bennett was drowned in a bath (Picture: SWNS)
Lisa Bennett was drowned in a bath (Picture: SWNS)

After the murder, the couple texted Ms Bennett’s mother Janet pretending to be her daughter before pocketing her £200-a-week benefits and spending it on themselves.

Ms Bennett, who was living in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham but originally from Burton-on-Trent, was reported missing on May 9 when she failed to collect a prescription.

Ms Bennett, who was homeless, was dependent on a cocktail of medications and a daily dose of Subutex - a heroin substitute.

Flanagan and Salmond were arrested in February 2014 - nine months after the murder - when Flanagan's brother Joseph told police they had confided in him about the crime.

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The jurors heard Joseph reported the murder to police after Ms Bennett’s family appeared on TV to make an emotional appeal for information about her whereabouts.

Prosecutor Simon Denison QC, who described the couple as “callous” and “inhuman” said: “Joseph Flanagan told police that in October or November 2013, Kevin Flanagan told him that he and Salmond has murdered Lisa.

“Lisa was suicidal and wanted to die but couldn’t do it herself. Flanagan decided that he and Kathleen would do it for her.

“They cooked the meat in the flat and told Lisa it was her ‘last dinner’. They then drowned Lisa in their bath.

“Once she was dead they wrapped her body and put it in a wheelie bin.”

Kevin Flanagan appearing at Birmingham Crown Court (Picture: SWNS)
Kevin Flanagan appearing at Birmingham Crown Court (Picture: SWNS)

Flanagan, from Kings Norton, Birmingham, and Salmond, from Hodge Hill area of the city, were both convicted by a majority verdict of 10-2.

The jury also unanimously found Salmond guilty of preventing lawful burial and fraud - two charges which Flanagan had previously admitted.

The victim’s mother Janet wept as the verdicts were announced before Judge Sue Carr told the court: “Mr Flanagan, you will be remanded in custody. Sentencing will be on Friday."