A man accused of killing 78-year-old peace campaigner Hilda Murrell yesterday told a jury it was his brother who carried out the murder.

Andrew George (37) told Anthony Barker QC, defending, that he and his bother, Steven, were "looking for a bit of cash" when they burgled Miss Murrell's house in Shrewsbury 21 years ago.

"It scared me when I heard about her death," he said.

"I just tried to blank it out of my head and did not want to know what was happening or what was going on. I kept my mouth shut. I did not want to tell anyone."

He told the court that the brothers thought the house was empty when they broke in.

"I was aware of someone shouting in the house," he said.

"I think I was still downstairs. Miss Murrell was asking: 'What are you doing in my house? Get out',

"Miss Murrell stood in the kitchen. She was shouting: 'You have no right to be in my house. Steven was going out of his head just screaming and shouting for money.

"He had his arm around her neck. It was just happening really fast. It was hectic. It went to a bad situation. There was no logic. By now it was going all pear shaped." His brother then dragged the now unconscious Miss Murrell upstairs before attempting to rape her, said George.

He said: "I did not do a lot to be truthful. They just disappeared and the last I saw of them was going down the stairs together. I did not actually see Miss Murrell leave the house. After they disappeared I stayed in the house and looked around and found about £30 to £40. After what happened I just wanted to keep myself out of the way."

George, of Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Miss Murrell on March 21, 1984, who froze to death after being dumped in a wood at Haughmond Hill, six miles from her home in Sutton Road, Shrewsbury. She had three stabs wound in her body and one in an arm. She was found three days later and a pathologist said that she would have taken between five and ten hours to die.

Oxford-educated Miss Murrell was also a world-renowned rose grower who at one time ran the family nursery business

Richard Latham QC, prosecuting, said detectives found a palm print in the house which was linked to George through DNA "and there was one chance in a billion that it belonged to anyone else".

The trial continues.