A 36-YEAR-OLD man has appeared in court charged with murdering a churchwarden at her Somerset home, PA's Claire Hayhurst and Rod Minchin report.

David Parish, of Halyard Drive, Bridgwater, is accused of murdering Beryl Purdy, 86, in Broomfield, near Bridgwater, on March 27.

He was initially sectioned under the Mental Health Act and then charged after being released from a secure mental health unit on Tuesday, Avon and Somerset Police said.

Parish appeared before Taunton Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday and was remanded in custody to appear at Bristol Crown Court on September 22.

Speaking before the court hearing, Detective Inspector Deb Hatch, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “This is a positive step in our investigation into the death of Beryl, known as Bez to her friends and family.

“Our thoughts remain with the family during this incredibly difficult time, and they continue to be supported by a specially trained family liaison officer.

“We will continue to carry out our investigation and seek to provide the family with the justice they so rightly deserve. We hope this news will also be welcomed by the local community which we know Bez was a much-loved member of.”

Police were called to reports of a burglary in progress at Mrs Purdy’s home at about 5.45pm on March 27.

She was found seriously injured and died at the property.

In a statement, Mrs Purdy’s loved ones said: “As a family, we are devastated to have lost a dearly loved wife, mother and granny.

“Bez was a caring person who would help anyone in need and was very much part of the village, being a churchwarden for 20 years.

“We will miss her very much and we are all struggling to understand why this happened to such a lovely person.”