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

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice