Reece Dempster: Burglar who sexually assaulted and murdered 89-year-old widow jailed for life

‘You seemed to have killed her for pleasure in your drunken state,’ judge says

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 06 February 2020 12:43 GMT
Burglar admits sexual assault and murder of woman, 89

A 23-year-old burglar has been jailed for life after he sexually assaulted and murdered an 89-year-old widow in her own bed.

Reece Dempster, 23, broke Dorothy Woolmer‘s home in Tottenham, north London, in August last year before sexually assaulting her and battering her around the head and body.

Dempster, who had been drinking gin and smoking crack cocaine beforehand, fled the scene the following morning.

He later told an acquaintance he “only got a hundred quid” and added: “It wasn’t even worth it.”

The judge, Mr Justice Edis, said Dempster had killed “tiny and defenceless” Woolmer “for pleasure”.

Dorothy Woolmer, 89, was found dead in the bedroom of her home in Tottenham (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Sentencing Dempster to a minimum term of 34 years in prison, the judge said: ”I have no doubt your behaviour was influenced by your consumption of drink and crack cocaine, but that does not excuse what you did.

“Actually, it makes it worse. She [Woolmer] was tiny and defenceless and you knew that.

“Because of you, she died an unimaginably dreadful death.

“You seemed to have killed her for pleasure in your drunken state, the murder involved sexual or sadistic conduct.

“You are a very dangerous man.”

Dempster had been drinking gin and smoking crack cocaine before he broke into Woolmer’s house (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Dempster changed his pleas to three offences mid-way through his trial at the Old Bailey on Wednesday, admitting one count of murder and two of assault by penetration.

The court heard Dempster was raised by his grandmother, but became acquainted with his drug-addict father, Mark Vaughan, in later years.

It was Mr Vaughan, the court was told, who encouraged Dempster to commit crime to feed their drug habits.

Prosecutor Anthony Orchard QC said Dempster had two previous convictions for burglary in the area, and breached a suspended sentence at the time of the killing. However, he was not on a curfew or a tag at the time, he said.

The court heard Dempster had “cased” Woolmer’s home, having carried out gardening work at the property a month before the attack.

He broke in while Woolmer, known as Dot, was asleep and then attacked and violated her body, in her bed, inflicting brutal injuries after finding a truncheon in the victim’s downstairs cupboard.

He fled the scene the following morning after spending around seven hours in her home, taking her purse and at least two bottles of alcohol, Vermouth and port, vomiting several times on the way.

Woolmer’s lifeless and bloodied body was found, semi-naked, in her bed, by her sister and a close friend who were concerned when she failed to answer the door for her morning newspaper.

The victim’s sister, Lilian Richardson, described how she had been unable to walk past Woolmer’s home since the killing, adding: “This is the most horrific thing we have all had to go through.

“The fact that there is a person like him living and breathing the same air as Dot is unthinkable.

“He deserves to know how it has made us all feel.

“He deserves to spend the rest of his life locked away in a room ... feeling powerless, like he made Dot feel that night.”

She added: “The events surrounding my sister’s death have brought extreme amounts of heartache and stress to me and my entire family as we are such a close family.

“She was the best big sister anyone could have ever asked for.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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