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Serial burglar who fled after tying pensioner to a chair is convicted of murder

Adris Mohammed has been found guilty of murder after tying a pensioner to a chair and leaving him to die (West Midlands Police/PA)
Adris Mohammed has been found guilty of murder after tying a pensioner to a chair and leaving him to die (West Midlands Police/PA)

An “evil” burglar has been found guilty of murder after tying a pensioner to a chair and leaving him to die.

Serial offender Adris Mohammed waited nine days before returning to David Varlow’s home to untie the 78-year-old’s body – after using a stolen bank card to withdraw cash from his account.

Prosecutors said Mohammed, 44, knew Mr Varlow had passed away alone, after being bound with telephone wire, because his stolen bank card had not been cancelled.

David Varlow
David Varlow is thought to have died from a stress-induced heart attack (West Midlands Police/PA)

Post-mortem tests were unable to establish exactly when Mr Varlow died, but he is thought to have suffered a stress-induced heart attack.

Jurors at Birmingham Crown Court deliberated over three days before convicting Mohammed of murder, attempted burglary and two counts each of fraud and burglary.

The defendant, from Icknield Port Road, Birmingham, denied any involvement in the killing, claiming someone else had asked him to take part in removal work.

Opening the Crown’s case at the start of the trial, prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said Mohammed went to Mr Varlow’s home in Manor Lane, Halesowen, West Midlands, on October 24, November 3 and overnight on November 11-12 last year.

The prosecutor told the court Mohammed unsuccessfully tried to break into the property on his first visit but went back to the house in the early hours of November 3.

Mohammed is then believed to have used a knife to force Mr Varlow to reveal his PIN, aiming to withdraw as much money as possible from an account holding £19,000.

Mr Grieves-Smith told jurors: “The plan would only work if David Varlow could not alert the police or the bank.

David Varlow
Mohammed broke into Mr Varlow’s home in November last year (West Midlands Police/PA)

“He tied David Varlow to a chair in his living room in such a way he would never be able to free himself.

“It would have been obvious David Varlow was old and frail, but he didn’t care.

“In tying him up, Adris Mohammed either intended to kill him or to cause him really serious harm.”

Commenting on the case, Detective Superintendent Shaun Edwards, of West Midlands Police, said Mohammed had opted not to make even an anonymous call after leaving Mr Varlow tied up.

As well as allowing others to use the stolen card to withdraw thousands of pounds, Mohammed used the card himself to steal £550, enabling him to buy a bangle which he pawned in Stafford.

Mr Edwards said: “This is an horrific targeting of a vulnerable 78-year-old man. I cannot imagine what it was like for Mr Varlow … tied to a chair, vulnerable, unable to call for help – simply left to die.”

Saying the “callous” killer had shown a lack of humanity, the officer added: “Mohammed’s motives were purely greed, purely to steal.

“He was purely focused on leaving him tied up, safe in the knowledge Mr Varlow couldn’t call for help, couldn’t report the burglary to his bank, so Mohammed could go on that spending spree with his friends, for those nine days.

“He still hasn’t taken responsibility for what happened to Mr Varlow.

“There’s absolutely no remorse, he’s a really callous, evil person.”

The body of Mr Varlow, who was 5ft 6in, was found on the floor close to a discarded knife – with his untied arms “almost crossed” behind his back.

Computer-generated images of Mr Varlow’s body and his living room were presented to the jury – showing his ankles with bands of injuries consistent with ligatures.

There were also binding marks to both wrists and ankles, with evidence of two separate wrappings around his arms.

Evidence from forensic pathologist Dr Alexander Kolar suggested the bindings were applied in life and were removed “a significant time” after Mr Varlow died.

The court heard Dr Kolar believed Mr Varlow’s arms being tied behind his back may have affected his ability to breathe.

Jurors also convicted co-defendant O’Shay Swan of burglary and fraud after hearing how the 42-year-old, of Winson Green Road, Birmingham, went with Mohammed to Manor Lane on November 11-12 and was present when Mr Varlow’s bank card was used.

Mohammed will be sentenced at the same court on May 25.