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.