A WOMAN will appear in court today charged with the murder of an elderly woman who was ‘strangled’ in Stanford-le-Hope.

Keeley Barnard, 51 of Hopkins Mead, Chelmsford appeared at Basildon Magistrates Court yesterday where she faced the charge of murdering Margaret Sims, who was in her 70s.

She spoke only to confirm her name, address and date of birth.

She was remanded in custody yesterday and will appear at Chelmsford Crown Court today where she is expected to enter a plea.

Margaret Sims was found dead at a house in Milton Road, Stanford-le-Hope in the early hours on Sunday August 20.

Paramedics contacted Essex Police quickly after they arrived at the house and confirmed that the woman, in her 70s had stopped breathing.

Following the call, three police cars were seen outside the house.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “A rapid response vehicle, ambulance officer and ambulance crew were dispatched to the property.

“Sadly, the woman died at the scene.”

The post mortem investigation, which was carried out on Sunday, showed the initial cause of Margaret’s death to be ‘compressions of the neck’.

Residents of the quiet street in Stanford-le-Hope were shocked when they found out about Margaret’s death.

People in Milton Road said that they did think that Margaret lived in the road and that she was visiting.

One man, who had lived in the street with his family for 11-years, said: “It must have been about 2am and they were there for a while, but I did not think any more of it. I dread to think what her family must be going through.”

Milton Road is usually a very quiet road according to its residents, however some are beginning to question how safe they are following the death.

A resident in Milton Road said: “Nothing like this has happened before, the odd burglary and things like that, but no not a serious crime.”

Police had not investigated anyone other than Barnard for Margaret’s murder and she will appear before Chelmsford Crown Court today.