A career burglar who murdered an elderly woman in her own home and set fire to her body has been jailed for at least 31 years.
Aaron Fyle, 29, battered 73-year-old Eulin Hastings over the head with a wooden coffee table on the afternoon of January 10 2017.
He had smashed his way in to her house in South Norwood, south-east London, through a patio door, and carried out an “untidy” burglary, breaking a lamp and emptying the retired midwife’s jewellery box.
When he was disturbed, he attacked Mrs Hastings and used napkins from the kitchen to set a fire at the bottom of the stairs where she lay dead or dying.
He tried to put out the blaze before fleeing the scene and burgling another nearby home while the occupants, a mother and baby, were inside.
The woman managed to escape with her daughter and alerted police, who found Fyle still in the house, armed with a knife.
Fyle jumped over fences and leapt on to a roof, where he threatened to harm himself during a five-hour stand-off.
Fyle, of Croydon, south London, admitted the burglaries, possessing a knife and the manslaughter of Mrs Hastings and was convicted of her murder following a trial at the Old Bailey.
The jury had rejected his claim he saw a “demon” and acted in self-defence or killed the mother-of-three while mentally ill.
On Friday, Judge Mark Lucraft QC jailed him for life with a minimum term of 31 years, with sentences for the other offences to run concurrently.
The judge noted the defendant’s previous convictions and told him that burglary had been his “way of life for many years”.
He said: “In this case I have no doubt that Eulin did disturb you whilst you were in the process of the burglary and that you picked up the coffee table close to you and you then hit Eulin with the table with great force.”
The judge acknowledged a “moving” statement from Mrs Hastings’ daughter, Sonia Rhone, made on behalf of the family.
Ms Rhone wrote: “We have been left bereft and lost since the death of our mother.
“As her daughter, we were more like sisters but she was always there to provide helpful, sage advice and valuable life lessons to us all, whenever we had problems.
“Her life was cut short whilst enjoying her final retirement years by someone who had never done an honest day’s work in his life.”