A 23-year-old burglar has admitted sexually assaulting and murdering a vulnerable 89-year-old woman in her own bed, changing his pleas part-way through the trial.

Dorothy Woolmer was battered to death in her home in Waltheof Gardens, Tottenham by Reece Dempster, who was on the hunt for money to feed his drug habit.

The widow's body was found on the morning of Sunday, August 4. 

Dempster showed little emotion as he entered fresh pleas at the Old Bailey today.

He admitted one count of murder and two of sexual assault by penetration.

Prosecutors at the Old Bailey decided against proceeding with a further count of rape.

He will be sentenced tomorrow.

In a statement released shortly after her death, Ms Woolmer's family said: "She was a wonderful, beautiful woman who was full of life.

"She always had something to talk about and was still hands-on with everything she did despite her age.

"She was extremely self-sufficient and would still cook all of her meals herself and get herself up and down her stairs.

"She was a sister, wife, auntie and dear friend to many and will be greatly missed. My family ask for privacy whilst we come to terms with what has happened."

Horrified neighbours had also paid tribute to Ms Woolmer and deemed the murder "absolutely disgusting".

The former housewife and keen gardener lived in a two-storey terraced home with her husband Ken Woolmer, a former Royal Navy engineer, for more than 60 years. Ken died a few years ago, according to neighbours.

Former RAF conscript John George, 91, who lived near Dorothy, said in August last year: "I couldn't wish for a better neighbour.

"She used to trim her hedges and tidy her garden. I used to say, 'Alright, gardener!'

"She was a very pleasant lady; and Ken was a most helpful man, any time of the day."

He added: "It's an absolutely disgusting attack on a 89-year-old.

"You think we are all safe, but then something like this happens."

Another neighbour Sayed Hussain, 40, said: "I have only two words - not human.

"No human can think like that.

"I've not a single word to explain my sorrow."

He added: "Secondly, I don't understand why, to our senior citizens? They are exceptional.

"Most of them on this road are senior citizens; all of them are very good.

"It's really terrible, it shouldn't happen."