A MAN has appeared before York magistrates accused of murdering an 87-year-old woman and trying to rob her at her home.

Peter Anthony John Harris, 33, is also alleged to have assaulted Elsie Mowbray’s son at her house on the same day, New Year’s Day, and to have carried out two other robberies on December 31 and January 1.

Mrs Mowbray died in the hours leading up to Harris’s appearance before the court. She was taken to York Hospital with a head injury on New Year’s Day after she had allegedly disturbed a burglar.

Harris was flanked in the dock by two police officers and spoke only to confirm his name and age during the brief hearing.

He indicated that he understood the charges as they were read out to him. He is charged with the murder of Mrs Mowbray, attempting to rob her and assaulting Richard Mowbray.

All three offences are alleged to have occurred at her home in Victoria Court off Leeman Road, York, in the afternoon of New Year’s Day.

He is also charged with robbing another woman in Swann Street, off Nunnery Lane, York, on New Year’s Eve, and of robbing a man in Turpin Court, off Piccadilly, shortly after the alleged murder, also on New Year’s Day.

Magistrates sent all the charges he faces to Leeds Crown Court where he was due to appear today.

Harris, of no fixed address, showed no reaction as he was remanded in custody.

Mrs Mowbray was taken to York Hospital on New Year’s Day and was discharged the next day. But she was later readmitted and by Tuesday, the day Harris was arrested, her condition was described as “critical”.

News of her death broke while he was still in police custody.