Son jailed for 18 years at least for murdering mother after she threatened to disinherit him

 

A carpet fitter who smothered his frail mother to death after she threatened to write him out of her will has been jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years.

Grandmother Carol Cooper, 66, was discovered by police lying in bed with a pillow over her face in her flat in St Vincent Road, Clacton, in November.

Her son, Peter Dickson, 37, who lived with her, was found kneeling alongside her lifeless body, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

Passing sentence, Judge Charles Gratwicke said: "You smothered your mother to death by holding a pillow over her head long enough to cause her to lose consciousness.

"This was a brutal and vicious attack on your own mother, a lady who had no cause to fear you and who was in poor health.

"She doted on you and provided for your every whim, putting you on a pedestal and your response to that love, affection and care was to smother her to death.

"Nobody sitting in this court can feeling anything but anger and revulsion at what you did to that poor woman, taking life from the very person who gave you life and leaving the rest of your family with a sadness and an empty void that cannot be filled."

Dickson had already admitted manslaughter but denied murder saying he had not intended to kill her.

He was convicted by a jury today after five and a half hours of deliberations following a 12-day trial.

Mrs Cooper's family sat in court and sighed with relief as he was convicted.

He did not give evidence during the trial but the court heard from a psychiatrist that he may have a personality disorder.

William Clegg QC, mitigating, said his client, who showed no emotion, had no previous convictions for violence.

He added: "We accept that the victim was vulnerable because of her disability.

"But because of his own mental problems the defendant, to some extent, was also under a disability."

Opening the trial, prosecutor Victor Temple QC told jurors that in the 11 months before her death, Mrs Cooper's bank account had gone from being in credit to being up to £3,000 overdrawn.

He said Dickson, who was registered as his mother's carer, had taken control of her finances and used her money to pay for a premium Sky television package, online movies and his mobile phone.

Mrs Cooper, who was "not in good health" and lived off disability allowance, told her family that she planned to confront him over his spending and wanted to disinherit him.

The trial heard that Dickson had been the "favourite" of Mrs Cooper's four children.

But Mr Temple added: "He was lazy and had been spoilt from a young age by his mother. They had a volatile relationship."

After killing his mother, Dickson sent text messages from her phone and when family members telephoned the house, Dickson pretended she was still alive, Mr Temple said.

On one occasion he was heard listening to a Westlife CD. When it skipped he shouted "hold on mum, I'll sort it out".

Mrs Cooper's sister, Daphne Wilson, became suspicious and contacted police.

Moments before police broke the door down to make the discovery, Dickson attempted to dial 999, jurors heard.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee