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
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn