A 999 call was made to police telling them one of two women had murdered a Blackburn man by bludgeoning him with a meat cleaver and leaving him for dead, a court heard.

Armed with the weapon, Joanne McNally and Rhea Parker had turned up at Philip Preece’s home demanding money, after he had received his benefits, Preston Crown Court was told.

And when Mr Preece told them he had no money, he suffered repeated blows to the head, which left blood spattered up the walls of his home in Whalley New Road, said prosecutors.

Gordon Cole QC, prosecuting, said police later received tip-off calls saying that either McNally or Parker had been telling friends one of them had murdered Mr Preece.

But the 56-year-old survived the sustained attack, which left him with a fractured skull and other serious head wounds, though he was hospitalised for five weeks.

McNally, 40, also of Whalley New Road, and Parker, 23, of no fixed address, have denied attempting to murder Mr Preece on August 2 last year.

They have also pleaded not guilty to causing him grievous bodily harm with intent.

Mr Cole said McNally and Parker had turned up at his home, where Mr Preece’s brother David and his friend Alan Harrison were also present.

The women went into a back room with Philip Preece and the other men say they could hear them demanding money – and the man telling them he didn’t have any.

The two other men left the house to go to Mr Harrison’s for a coffee but were concerned and returned a short time later, the court heard.

Later the pair told police they discovered the front door wide open and went to get help from a neighbour.

Mr Preece was found face down in the rear room, covered in blood, and had to be airlifted to the Royal Preston Hospital, where he remained in the critical care unit for a month.

Mr Cole said Mr Preece could recall nothing about the incident other than the two women arriving at his home.

He added: “The two defendants went to the home of Philip Preece, ostensibly to get money.

“But they came armed with a meat cleaver and that was used repeatedly on Mr Preece.”

CCTV footage is said to have captured McNally coming out of the house first, to meet up with her boyfriend, Daniel Marsh, who was stood at a nearby bus stop.

The court heard Parker came out later, and left by a different route, but they both met up at McNally’s home, further along Whalley New Road.

The women and Mr Marsh then took a taxi into Blackburn town centre, where they were overhead talking about the “murder”.

Arrested and interviewed about the incident later, the court heard, both blamed each other for Mr Preece’s injury.

The meat cleaver is thought to have been dumped nearby and has never been found.