A killer tricked a pensioner into opening her front door by showing her Age UK charity leaflets, then struck her at least 30 times with a hammer, a court has been told.
Judith Richardson, 77, was found battered to death at her home in Hexham, Northumberland, in August last year.
Her ground floor flat was ransacked and her jewellery stolen as she lay dying in her hallway, Newcastle Crown Court was told. As the murderer left, he repeatedly bludgeoned her again, fracturing her skull.
Graeme Jarman, 48, from the Delves Lane area of Consett, County Durham, denies her murder.
Robert Smith QC, prosecuting, said the attack on Miss Richardson was not random and there was evidence that Jarman, who changed his appearance and fled following the killing, selected his victim the day before.
"This was not a chance encounter with Miss Richardson," he said.
"The prosecution's case is that the defendant planned her killing and went to her home well prepared for what he intended to do."
The court was shown CCTV of Jarman in Hexham the day before the pensioner's death, which appeared to show him talking to elderly residents. The prosecution claims he was "observing potential victims".
"His interest was in elderly females," Mr Smith said.
On the day of the murder, Jarman went to Miss Richardson's home with the charity leaflets and a hammer that he had stolen from a shop in Hexham, Mr Smith added.
Miss Richardson, who lived with her terrier Hamish, was settling down to her lunch of buttered toast.
"At some time after Judith Richardson made her last telephone call at 1.26pm on Friday 19 August, she made herself some toast and took it through to the living room on a tray," Mr Smith told jurors. "She was called to the front door.
"Judith Richardson was struck with the hammer straight after she answered the door and she fell against the wall of the lobby, bleeding from her initial head wound or wounds.
"Her attacker then entered the bedroom where he began to search for items to steal.
"Miss Richardson wasn't dead but managed to crawl a few metres along the hallway and rose to a kneeling or crawling position.
"The probability is that her assailant emerged from the bedroom and inflicted numerous more blows with the hammer, fracturing her skull.
"The person responsible for her murder had ransacked her bedroom and had taken away with him her handbag and items of jewellery."
In the hours after Miss Richardson's death, Jarman visited a number of towns in the region by bus and taxi, buying new clothes and shaving his head in what the prosecution claims was a bid to disguise himself.
Jarman threw her handbag in a bin in Newcastle and sold her jewellery for £300 scrap value to a nearby jeweller, Mr Smith told the jury.
"The actions of dropping that handbag into the bin were to result in the discovery of her body later that day," he said, adding that a member of the public found it and alerted police, who went to the pensioner's home and found her body in a pool of blood.
Jarman was arrested a fortnight later in Filey, North Yorkshire, after officers launched a "full-scale murder hunt" and circulated his description prompting a tip-off, Mr Smith said.
Police were able to "piece together what we submit is a powerful and compelling case against the defendant, that he was the person who killed Miss Richardson", he said.
Mr Smith told jurors there was "clear and material evidence" linking Jarman to the killing.
"Of particular significance, you will hear about the finding of DNA which matches the profile of the defendant found on a tissue on top of a chest of drawers in Miss Richardson's ransacked bedroom. The tissue also bore blood which can be shown to be Miss Richardson's blood," he said.
Tests found the likelihood of it not being Jarman's DNA were one in a billion.
Jarman's fingerprints were also found on the charity leaflets, he said, and Miss Richardson's blood was found on the hammer, discovered in a plastic bag near the scene.
"He used that hammer to batter her to death then abandoned it in a carrier bag on a wall next to her home," Mr Smith said.
The hammer was later moved by Miss Richardson's next door neighbour, Edward Brewis, 84, whose DNA appeared on it leading to him initially being arrested for murder but released without charge.
Mr Smith said the evidence points to "only one realistic conclusion and that is that the defendant is the man who murdered Miss Richardson".
During police interviews, Jarman denied killing the pensioner.
He admitted being in her street at the same time Miss Richardson was murdered and claimed he was thinking about how to get money when, "as if by divine intervention" he found a carrier bag containing Miss Richardson's handbag, Mr Smith said - an explanation which "stretches coincidence to breaking point".
The trial, scheduled for four weeks, was adjourned until tomorrow.