A MURDER hearing was held by mobile phone after an 80-year-old was charged with stabbing a 76-year-old woman to death.

The Facetime hearing took place via a magistrate court clerk’s mobile phone because the accused killer was struggling to get to court and the live feeds from the prison and police stations did not work.

Robert Lewis, 80, appeared via Facetime before District Judge John Woollard having been charged with the murder of Janet Lewis, who was found dead in a property in Padgetts Way, Hullbridge on September 1.

He spoke only to confirm his name, age and address, also Padgetts Way, but did not enter a plea.

Addressing Lewis, Judge Woollard said that the method of communication was “impromptu” but no police feeds were working and because Lewis has mobility issues, he could not appear at court in person which made it the best option.

He said: “Because this issue is so serious I can’t process anything in this court today and must refer you to crown court.

“I am not authorised to grant you bail, you must appear before the judge at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday and they will decide whether bail is appropriate and inform you how the proceedings will continue.”

Janet Lewis was found in Hullbridge at 1.50pm on September 1 with multiple wounds to her neck. Police and paramedics were called to the scene with the air ambulance also sent to provide emergency care.

Tragically she could not be saved and was declared dead at the scene.

Witnesses described how at least five police cars rushed to the scene and the street was cordoned off for a number of hours.

Forensic investigators attended and police were seen canvassing neighbours in the area as a murder probe was launched.

In the days after her death, neighbours described her as a “nice” and “friendly” resident.

An 80-year-old man was also found in the property with serious injuries and taken to hospital.

A post mortem examination was carried out which found she had suffered multiple stab wounds to the neck.

Lewis was remanded in custody and is set to appear at Chelmsford Crown Court today for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

It is not yet clear if he will appear in person of via video link for the hearing when a plea is expected to be entered and a trial date set, if appropriate.