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Couple 'murdered housemate and dumped her body in communal bins to claim her benefits'

Kathleen Salmond and Kevin Flanagan are accused of murdering Lisa Bennett in Birmingham (SWNS)

A couple killed their housemate and then dumped her body in a bin so they could claim her benefits, a court heard.

Kevin Flanagan, 39, and Kathleen Salmond, 40, are both accused of murdering Lisa Bennett, 38, in Weoley Castle, Birmingham, on or around 9 May, 2013.

Prosecutors claim her remains were unwittingly taken by refuse collectors and incinerated with other waste after her body was dumped in a communal bin.

Shortly after the murder, jurors heard, the couple texted Ms Bennett’s mother pretending to be her daughter before claiming her benefits.

Flanagan and Salmond, both from Birmingham, are also charged with fraud and preventing burial.

Lisa Bennett went missing in May 2013 (SWNS)

Ms Bennett, who was living in Selly Oak, Birmingham, but was originally from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was reported missing by her mother in May 2013.

Ms Bennett, who was homeless, was dependent on a cocktail of prescription medications and a daily dose of Subutex – a heroin substitute.

She received around £100 disability living allowance each week and £230 employment and support allowance each fortnight.

The court heard that on 9 May she failed to collect her prescription from Lloyds pharmacy in Selly Oak.

Kathleen Salmond covers her face with a cardigan as she leaves Birmingham Crown Court (PA)

At the time she was living with Salmond and Flanagan at their flat at Kingston Court, Weirbrook Close, Weoley Castle.

Simon Denison QC, prosecuting, told Birmingham Crown Court that on that afternoon a text message was sent by Flanagan pretending to be Lisa to her mother, Janet Bennett.

Flanagan is also accused of sending two further messages to Lisa’s mother pretending to be her to make her believe that nothing had happened.

Mr Denison said Janet Bennett realised from the way the messages were written that they were not from her daughter.

He said that on May 13, 2013, Salmond made a phone call to the benefits office at DWP, and also pretended to be Ms Bennett and arranged for her benefits to be paid into her bank account.

Kevin Flanagan outside Birmingham Crown Court (PA)

Mr Denison said: “The two defendants reaped the benefits of Lisa’s disappearance by withdrawing Lisa’s benefit money from Kathleen Salmond’s account and spending it on themselves.”

He said that when police came to question the defendants about what happened to Ms Bennett, they said she was alive and that she had asked them to transfer her benefits into Salmond’s account, which would then be collected by her new boyfriend, Ian.

Mr Denison said: “They were lying.

“Lisa Bennett was dead and her new boyfriend didn’t exist.

“Her body has never been found and she has no grave.”

Salmond, who attended court in a wheelchair, denies murder, preventing a lawful and decent burial, and fraud.

Flanagan also denies murder but pleaded guilty to fraud and preventing a lawful and decent burial.