A wealthy property developer was stabbed to death by a Pretty Woman-style prostitute he had become “infatuated” with after he lavished her with gifts and cash, a court has heard.
Hooker Emma Bate, 26, is accused of murdering Richard Sherratt, 57, by punching him in the face and stabbing him in the arm.
Just three months earlier twice-divorced Mr Sherratt had met Bate and treated her to expensive jewellery, nights in luxury hotels and thousands in cash gifts.
Mr Sherratt, who was the brother of Francine Austin, ex-wife of David Austin who runs world renowned David Austin Roses, was said to be “craving companionship” when he met Bate last March.
But they split up in May after she began bombarding him with text messages begging for cash to fund her addiction to crack cocaine.
Mr Sherratt was attacked and killed at his flat in Bridgnorth, Shrops., on the evening of June 13 last year and robbed of cash cards and a #10,000 watch.
Stafford Crown Court heard Bate targeted Mr Sherratt because she knew he was well off and she needed cash to fund her addiction to class A drugs.
Bate’s boyfriend, Paramjit Singh, has already pleaded guilty to murder.
Bate admitted robbing and defrauding Mr Sherratt but denies murder.
Another co-accused, Michael Smith, 51, denies robbery and fraud.
The court heard Mr Sherratt had first met Bate in March last year and instantly became “infatuated” with her.
Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith told the jury: “How did they [the defendants] know Mr Sherratt? Emma Bate knew him through her work as a prostitute.
“She had first met him in March last year. He had become somewhat infatuated with her, paid her large amounts of money.
“By 13 June he had cut links and they were out of contact. From the middle of May they had fallen out.
“She was addicted to class A drugs, in particular crack cocaine and she needed money.
“When she was interviewed by police she said that on June 13 someone she bought drugs from wanted her to pay her debts.
“That’s how they came to go to the flat in Bridgnorth.
“Emma Bate had a boyfriend called Paramjit Singh, like her he was addicted to class A drugs.
“Smith, an unemployed man, was chosen to drive them.”
The court heard the trio travelled from Birmingham and arrived at Mr Sherratt’s flat at midnight and entered the property using a key he had given to Bate months earlier.
Mr Grieves-Smith said: “Mr Sherratt was asleep and he was awoken by their arrival. It was then that he was robbed, attacked and killed.”
Just an hour after the killing the court heard all three defendants were on their way back to Birmingham with Mr Sherratt’s bank cards, some cash and a watch worth #10,000.
There were pinprick injuries to his arm and neck.
Mr Grieves-Smith added: “The prosecution say that was done to extract the PIN numbers to his bank account.
“There are only two people who are in a position to say what happened within the flat. Bate was to blame Singh for the killing.
“Singh has pleaded guilty to murder and she blames him.
“She claims that when she went to the cash till, Mr Sherratt was uninjured, when she came back, he had been attacked.
“The prosecution suggest she has minimised what she has done.
“She has pleaded guilty to robbery of Mr Sherratt and fraud when his bank cards was used fraudulently.
“The prosecution’s case is: Paramjit Singh and Emma Bate are responsible for the murder of Richard Sherratt, Smith was just as involved in the robbery.”
Mr Sherratt had bought a plot of land in Bridgnorth for housing development but the twice divorced father-of-three was lonely and “craved companionship”, the court heard.
When he met Bate. he described her as his girlfriend and splashed thousands of pounds on her taking her to four star hotels, plush restaurants and put #8,000 in her bank account.
He even planned to take her on holiday to Dubai.
The trial continues.