The court heard the killer donned a wig of reddish hair and goatee but they were fake - with prosecutuion The van dyke beard style.
Nicola Collingbourne was found dead in her flat (Image: South Beds News Agency)
A woman disguised herself with a 'Van Dyke' beard, wig, heavy framed glasses and a hi-vis jacket before killing her half-sister with a chicken-shaped ceramic pot, a jury heard.
Yvonne Caylor, 53, wore the disguise to make herself look like a man before walking to sibling Nikki Collingbourne's flat and launching her attack, the court was told.
Ms Collingbourne, 26, was found in her underwear lying in a pool of blood at her flat in Ivel Court, Letchworth, Herts by members of her family.
Prosecutor John Price QC told Luton Crown Court today that the killing was ‘a case of whodunnit’.
He told the court: "There is no issue Nikki Collingbourne was unlawfully killed by someone. The issue you will have to decide is by whom?
Nicola Collingbourne, 26, with her older half-sister Yvonne Caylor, 52 (Image: SWNS)
Nicola Collingbourne was found dead by two family members (Image: South Beds News Agency)
"To use a slang phrase: This case is a whodunnit."
Yvonne Caylor from Grove Road, Hitchin, Herts denies murder.
Mr Price said Ms Collingbourne was murdered by an intruder on Monday May 23 this year, sometime between 8.24am and 12.01pm.
Yvonne Caylor, from Grove Road in Hitchin, was arrested on suspicion of murder two days after Nicola’s body was found (Image: SWNS)
Van dyke beard styles pictures
CCTV showed a figure in a high visibility jacket entering the flats just before half past eight and leaving just before noon.
Mr Price said: "That individual went straight to first floor. The visible facial hair would suggest the person is a man. The person went directly to the flat and used the letter box to knock at the door.
The flat where Nicola's body was found (Image: South Beds News Agency)
The woman's body was found in a flat in Ivel Court (Image: South Beds News Agency)
"It is somebody quite short of plump build. That person was wearing gloves. He had reddish hair, a similarly coloured goatee or Van Dyke beard and heavy framed spectacles."
"The hair and beard are fake. So too might (be the) spectacles.
A Van Dyke is a style of facial hair named after 17th century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck and specifically consists of any growth of both a moustache and goatee with all hair on the cheeks shaven.
He added: "Nikki tried to close the door but the intruder forced their way into the flat. It suggests she saw someone who had frightened her and wanted to keep her out of the flat.
"Despite the disguise she had recognised the intruder.
"So obviously is this a false beard and wig its purpose may have been to conceal the intruder's identity from the cameras.”
Mr Price said there was a substantial age discrepancy between Nikki and the defendant, who shared the same father.
In May this year Nikki's mother Rena Hibbert-Jones was in frail health and was in the Lister Hospital in Stevenage for a severe respiratory disease.
Luton Crown Court (Image: South Beds News Agency)
Ms Hibbert-Jones, who has since died, was due to return home and she tried to contact Nikki to arrange her to collect her from the hospital.
Mr Price told the jury of seven men and five woman that there was concern that Nikki could not be contacted.
Three family members obtained a spare key and on the evening of Tuesday 24 May two of them went in.
Mr Price said: "They found Nikki Collingbourne. She was very obviously dead. She was lying on the floor of her kitchen. They immediately called the police on the emergency 999 number.
"It was a horrible and very distressing scene. Nikki was lying on her back. Her feet was facing the door.
"She was wearing only her underwear. There was a large amount of blood on the floor and it had pooled in the region where her head was lying.
"On the floor were a number of shattered or broken pieces of ceramic. They turned out to be the fragments of a ceramic kitchen pot that once it was put together it was in the shape of a chicken."
Mr Price said Nikki may have been struck on the back of the head with the chciken pot that was later put back together.
He said it had been picked up, wielded and brought it down on her head with two hands.
"The nature of the head injury indicates a degree of force applied in causing it to have rendered her unconscious," he said.
He said Nikki's wrists bore similar, deep incised wounds which he said were not self inflicted.
The van dyke beard style
He went on: "A bizarre feature was the fact was in her right hand she was holding by the handle a small hand brush that comes with a dustpan and brush set.
"That she was found holding the brush is that the scene had been staged in some way. Possibly to try and resemble a suicide.
"If that was the case it was very incompetently done. The brush would have fallen from the hand before she hit the ground."
Two pathologists examined her body and were unable to ascertain cause of death.
"But she died a violent death and it was not at her own hands. Despite the uncertainties in the pathological findings the pathological evidence points to the conclusion that this was an unusual and unnatural death that was caused by someone else.
"Wounds to her wrist indicated they had been inflicted to her body on shortly before her death. They were not typical of self inflicted wrist wounds.
"She was unconscious but alive when the blade that caused them was applied," Mr Price said.
The case is expected to last for two to three weeks.