Rosalind Gray, 56, owed £200 to Linda Rainey, 60, after a mix-up with their flights to Morocco, but the row turned nasty and Gray pushed her in the chest at the top of a flight of stairs causing a fatal brain injury
A woman who killed her former friend by pushing her down a flight of stairs after they fell out over a cancelled holiday to Morocco has been jailed for 13 years for her manslaughter.
Rosalind Gray owed £200 to grandmother Linda Rainey, after their trip to Marrakesh was cancelled due to a flight mix-up.
The two women exchanged messages in which Ms Rainey, 60, asked for her money back and 56-year-old Gray called her a “nasty old troll”.
They argued again when they unexpectedly met up at the home of mutual friend Adrian Lawrence, 54, in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.
Norwich Crown Court heard how the row led to Gray pushing Ms Rainey in the chest at the top of the stairs so she went flying backwards and landing at the bottom with a fatal brain injury.
The mother-of-five died two days later on August 7 last year without regaining consciousness after having her life support turned off in Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Gray, of Great Yarmouth, and Lawrence set out to pretend her death was an accident and tried to silence a witness, Emma Walker who had been in the flat.
But Ms Walker spoke to police three days after the death on August 10 and revealed what happened.
Gray, was cleared of murder, but a jury took less than two hours to find her guilty of manslaughter.
She and Lawrence were also convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice between August 5 and August 12 last year.
Judge Stephen Holt gave Gray an extended sentence of 13 years in prison followed by four years on licence.
Lawrence was jailed for 38 months for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The court heard Gray had seven previous convictions for 25 offences including arson with intent to endanger life for which she received a 10-year jail term in 2010.
Judge Holt said Gray was “entirely responsible” for the death of Ms Rainey and insisted she “couldn’t care less” about it.
He told her “It should have been blindingly obvious to you that pushing someone backwards down stairs was high risk”.
Judge Holt described Lawrence as the “main mover” in trying to cover up the killing and hailed the bravery of witness Ms Walker who came forward to police despite being pressurised to stay quiet.
He added that both defendants had shown a “complete lack of empathy and remorse”.
Ms Rainey’s daughter Louise Pierce read a victim impact statement on behalf of her family, describing how her mother had been “snatched from us” and that “losing her has been so painful”.
She said the sight of her mother in hospital would stay with her forever and questioned how the defendants – who were supposed to have been her friends – could act as they did.
Ms Pierce said: “It breaks my heart that I will never get to call her to ask her advice on anything, whether it’s to do with my daughter or how to make Yorkshire puddings, something always got wrong without her reminders!”
She added that she her family also had the “trauma” of having to go through two trials after the jury had to be discharged in the first trial earlier this year.
The trial heard how Gray and Lawrence had told Ms Walker to hide in another room when paramedics arrived to treat Ms Rainey as she “couldn’t be trusted to stay quiet”.
They later threatened her to keep quiet at a meeting in a pub, but she found the courage to come forward.
Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said Ms Rainey’s death would have been an “undetected perfect murder” if it had been put down to a tragic accident.
He described Gray as having a “propensity for violence”.
The jury were told of some of the 5,493 text messages exchanged between Gray and Ms Rainey from December 24, 2018, until July 31 last year.
One message allegedly sent by Gray described Ms Rainey a “nasty old bag”.
Another sent by Gray at 10.11pm on July 30 called her former friend “vile” and a “nasty old troll” and urged her to “enjoy your lonely life”.
Ms Rainey replied that Gray owed her £200. In the last message between them at 12.02am on July 31, she said “Come on sweet, bring it on”.
Gregory Bull, defending Gray had been in the flat for just 20 or 25 minutes before the incident and insisted it was “not a case of premeditation or any form of planning”.
Mr Bull said there was “no evidence to say this was a ferocious attack or a really hard push”.
He said there had been no viciousness from Gray towards Ms Rainey, describing it as a “spontaneous push” which “happened in a flash”.
Andrew Oliver, defending Lawrence, who has nine convictions for 17 offences, said custody was “inevitable”.
He said Lawrence was an alcoholic and had been drinking “a huge amount of alcohol” at the time.
Mr Oliver said it was not sophisticated or well planned and was an “immediate reaction to a fast-moving incident”.
Lawrence, who appeared by videolink, apologised to Ms Rainey’s family, saying: “I can’t ask for forgiveness, but I hope they accept my apology.”
Gray posed for her picture of her on the mobility scooter with a brick in June 2018 with a social media caption saying. “Lol you can take the girl out of Hemel but you cant take Hemel out of the girl lol I found this thing outside the pub with a brick in the basket it tickled me lol x”
Detective Chief Inspector Mike Brown of Norfolk Police said: “The sentencing reflects the seriousness of Rosalind Gray and Adrian Lawrence’s actions that night and in the days following Linda’s death.
“I would like to thank the witness for their bravery and assistance throughout our investigation and during the trial.
“Without their honest and consistent account of the circumstances leading up to, and during the days after the incident, we may not have ever known the truth behind Linda’s untimely and tragic death.
“While Linda’s family have seen justice, nothing can make up for their loss and I can only hope the sentence will go some way in helping them during this difficult time.”