Man admits raping and murdering pensioner Esther Brown in Glasgow

A man has pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of a pensioner who was found dead in her home.

Jason Graham, 30, appeared at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday, where he admitted to assaulting and killing Esther Brown.

The court heard Graham then purchased a packet of cigarettes using the deceased’s bank card following the murder.

The 67-year-old’s body was found at her address in West Princes Street in Woodlands, Glasgow, on Tuesday June 1 after she had been missing for four days.

A week after the last sighting of her, officers arrested and charged Graham over her death.

The court heard the accused had a previous conviction for attacking and raping an older woman in 2013 and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

He was released in 2018 before his licence expired in 2020 and he has been a registered sex offender since.

Ms Brown has been described as a “much loved and active member of the community” and was devoted to St Silas Church.

In a statement read out in court, friends described her life as “full and rewarding” and “dedicated to helping others”.

Addressing Graham in court, judge Lord Armstrong said: “You now stand convicted of the gravest of crimes involving the most depraved actions on your part, characterised by utter brutality, extreme and sustained violence against a defenceless woman in her own home.”

Defence lawyer Brian McConnachie QC told the court Graham had “no recollection” of the attack, but has “insight” into the impact Ms Brown’s death has had on the community.

He said the accused is on medication for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in relation to a “traumatic childhood event”, and that he had consumed “a substantial” amount of alcohol on the night he broke into Ms Brown’s property.

Esther Brown death
Police stood guard outside Esther Brown’s home after her body was found (Douglas Barrie/PA)

Mr McConnachie said: “It seems to be clear that the combination of the drugs and alcohol have contributed to the offences.”

After drinking in a nearby pub, Graham accessed Ms Brown’s property through an open door into the building’s stairwell before knocking on her door.

The court heard the two were not known to each other.

Following the murder, Graham returned to a relative’s property and told his cousin he had “done something bad” and said “they are coming for me”, the court heard.

People in the community known to Ms Brown grew concerned for her welfare after she failed to show up to an organised walk and her regular church service.

Friends visited her home, but called the police before entering the property as they “sensed something was wrong”.

Ms Brown was found dead with multiple lacerations and bruises to her body.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC said a postmortem examination showed signs that Ms Brown was “fighting for her life” during the attack and had injuries “consistent with sexual assault”.

He said the victim suffered “sustained beating from pieces of wood from a broken chair” that was damaged during the incident.

Jason Graham
Jason Graham was previously jailed for seven years for rape in 2013 (Police Scotland/PA)

Lord Armstrong deferred sentence on Graham until November 12 at the High Court in Edinburgh for reports, including on his psychiatric history.

Graham, who appeared in court wearing a blue jumper and blue jeans, remains subject to Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009.

Police Scotland welcomed the conviction and paid tribute to the local community for their support during the murder investigation.

Detective Superintendent Suzie Chow, of Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Teams, said: “Jason Graham will now have to face the consequences of his actions.

“This was a brutal attack and one that left Esther’s family and the community absolutely devastated.

“It has been a harrowing ordeal for Esther’s family, her friends and those who knew her and my thoughts are with them as they continue to come to terms with her death.”

She said the response from the local community in the aftermath of Ms Brown’s murder demonstrated “how loved and respected” she was and thanked them for their support in their inquiries.

Dr Annie Gemmill, a friend of Ms Brown, paid tribute to her ahead of Friday’s hearing.

She said Ms Brown was “a single lady but she had a great love”, adding “no one’s life should ever be ended as hers was, and we miss her so much.”