Good Samaritan murder victim Graham Buck was warned not to come in to the village home where a convicted killer lay in waiting, the Old Bailey heard today.
His neighbour urged him to call the police after escaping the clutches of a dangerous criminal who had come to rob him - but told him not to come in to the house.
But Mr Buck, who had just returned to his Little Gaddesden home after a short break in Poland where he had met his baby granddaughter for the first time, came to his aid - and paid for it with his life.
Killer Ian McLoughlin, 55, who travelled to Little Gaddesden while on day release from prison, pleaded guilty to robbery and murder when he appeared via videolink this morning.
He told the court that he had no regrets about his robbery bid, but said he was sorry about the brave pensioner’s fate.
The court heard that he had been given a lift to Hemel Hempstead from Spring Hill Prison near Aylesbury where he was serving a life sentence for an earlier murder, committed in 1994.
McLoughlin then travelled to Little Gaddesden where he intended to meet elderly convicted paedophile Francis Cory-Wright.
The pair had met in Little Hay prison where Cory-Wright was serving a 30-month prison sentence for child abuse in the 1970s.
Cory-Wright let McLoughlin into his home, where McLoughlin asked him for £850.
When Cory-Wright refused, having already given him £400, McLoughlin seized him from behind. The court heard that McLoughlin said to him: ‘I hate doing this to you, I do not want to hurt you, but I want to know where you keep your gold and silver.’
He tied Cory-Wright to a bed but as McLoughlin searched the house Cory-Wright managed to untie himself, ran to a window and called to a Mr Buck, who lived two doors down
Cory-Wright told Mr Buck to get the police as a murderer was in the house, but not to come in as Cory-Wright did not want to lure Mr Buck into a danger.
But another neighbour, Colin Fraser, told how he saw the two men grappling on Cory-Wright’s drive – McLoughlin appeared to be dragging Mr Buck towards the kitchen, he said.
Mr Buck later left the house with blood pouring from a throat wound.
For the prosecution, Ann Evans said: “His throat had been slashed wide open.”
Mr Fraser described the slash as wide enough to put his fist in.
Mortally wounded, Mr Buck ran to his own garden but died with his dog by his side.
The court heard that Mr Buck and his wife Karen had just returned from a long weekend break in Poland where Mr Buck had met his five-month-old granddaughter for the first time.
McLoughlin escaped with an estimated £1,200 he had found in one of Cory-Wright’s cupboards and used it to fund gambling and drink until his arrest four days later.
He spent a third of the money on taxis and escaped Little Gaddesden by asking a receptionist at nearby Ashridge House to call a taxi to get him to Watford.
He later travelled to London, staying at a friend’s home, and dyed his hair to disguise himself.
He planned to throw himself off Beachy Head in East Sussex, but instead got drunk until he was arrested, the court heard.
The court heard that as he was arrested McLoughlin said: “He (Cory-Wright) deserves it, the ponce, the other guy (Buck) did not. I’m not sorry for what I did to the nonce but I am sorry for what I did to the pensioner.”
McLoughlin had discussed setting up a charity called Staging Point with Cory-Wright while the pair were in prison.
Its aim was to resettle elderly offenders after their release, McLoughlin said.
But later he suggested it was more to do with rehousing McLoughlin himself, the court heard.
He had arranged to meet Cory-Wright about the charity but Cory-Wright told him not to come as he was feeling ill.
The court heard that McLoughlin had got Cory-Wright’s Nettleden Road address from people drinking in Little Gaddesden pub the Bridgewater Arms before the attack on Saturday, July 13.
McLoughlin was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison for manslaughter in 1984, reduced to eight on appeal, and to life with a minimum term of 14 years for murder in 1992.
The court heard he also had a series of minor convictions dating back to 1970 when he was just 13.