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OAP murder rocks friendly community

PUBLISHED: 12:13 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 25 August 2010

FRIENDS of a kind and caring great-grandmother stabbed to death in her home have paid tribute to the woman who was a pillar of the community.

FRIENDS of a "kind and caring" great-grandmother stabbed to death in her home have paid tribute to the woman who was a "pillar of the community."

Neighbours of Irene Barrett, 88, at Valiant House, in Sam Bartram Close, Charlton have been shocked by her violent killing.

Mrs Bennett was found with multiple stab wounds in her seventeenth floor flat in the tower block, which overlooks the Charlton Athletic ground, at 9.40am on Saturday.

Mother of two Claire Pickett, 30, was in shock when she heard of the murder.

She said: "I just can't believe what's happened, I don't understand it.

"She was very caring, and always looked out for other people. She had a lot of friends.

Ms Pickett, who has lived on the seventh floor of Valiant House for ten years tearfully added: "When my babies were born she knitted them both a blanket and brought them presents, she would pop in and see them. When any of the older residents passed away Reeny would organise a collection and get a card for everybody to sign. She was like that."

The retired secretary, who was actively involved in the estate's over 55s club, had lived on the seventeenth floor of the tower block, overlooking the Charlton Athletic stadium, for 28 years.

Neighbour John Moore, 57, a mechanic, said: "Reeny never upset anybody. She was a very nice and cheerful woman, everybody loved her, and we looked after her.

"This block is such that if somebody is elderly, we look after them and neighbours looked out for her. I can't understand why she was killed, she should have been left to enjoy her retirement."

Another close friend, Denis Burgess, 73, who lives on the seventh floor of the 1970s tower block, said: "This is well out of order. There was simply no need for this to happen to this kind, caring woman."

Some people who live in the area say that the estate has gone downhill in recent years.

Ms Pickett said: "It's not as nice as it used to be round here. I'm now scared because I have two young children. It's not something you expect to happen on your doorstep."

Det Chief Insp Cliff Lyons, in charge of the murder investigation, said "Irene was a well liked and well known member of the community. Her family are devastated at what has happened.

"Irene suffered multiple stab wounds and appears to have been severely beaten. It's extremely sickening and disturbing."

Daniel Franklin, 33, of Felixstowe Road, Abbeywood, has been charged with the murder of Mrs Barrett, and appeared at Camberwell Magistrates' Court yesterday (Wednesday).

A second woman, was arrested on Tuesday night and remained in custody as the Times went to press on Wednesday.

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