A pigeon-fancier was discovered distraught and sobbing by his son after his cat-loving neighbour, with whom he was involved in a long-running feud, was killed by a single gunshot, a court heard yesterday.
Brendan Stockton, aged 25, said his father had been badly affected by a fire which destroyed his pigeon loft in June last year.
The pigeon fancier is alleged to have blamed Mrs Rondel for the blaze and shot her in a drunken rage. There had allegedly been a history of friction between the pair, with the 48-year-old mother of two accusing Stockton of poisoning her cats.
Yesterday, Brendan Stockton told Birmingham Crown Court that his father had seemed "happy go merry" when he met him in a working men's club about three hours before the shooting, but that his parents were hysterical after the killing.
He arrived at his parents' home at about 12.45am on December 27 to find his mother screaming and his father crying, he claimed.
"He said that he had shot Sue Rondel," the witness alleged. "He was telling us that he loved us and that he was sorry.
"He was just crying and said he was going to do himself in. He couldn't cope with what he had done."
The court heard allegations that Brendan Stockton had received a text message from Mrs Rondel four days before the loft fire which contained the phrase "ever heard your old man scream".
Brendan said he had not understood the message, but had telephoned Mrs Rondel to be told that he would find out what it meant.
The court was told Mrs Rondel died instantly from a single gunshot which penetrated her breastbone, heart and spine.
Giving evidence on the second day of Stockton's trial, pathologist Dr Peter Acland told the jury that the inch-wide wound suggested the fatal shot was fired at close range.
Asked by prosecuting counsel Nigel Baker QC how far away Mrs Rondel, aged 48, had been from the gun which killed her, Dr Acland said: "It depends on each individual shotgun, but in general terms shotguns fire pellets and these will spread outwards with distance.
"If it's a small circular hole then you are fairly close."
Plastic webbing from a shotgun cartridge was also found in the wound, support-ing the opinion that the shotgun was fired at close quarters, Dr Acland added.
Questioned as to what effect the shot had had on Mrs Rondel's heart, the pathologist told jurors: "It completely disintegrated, completely disrupted it." The trial - at which Stockton has denied murder - continues.