Hammer killer given hospital order
A man who beat his retired BBC journalist father to death with a hammer in a "shocking and gruesome" attack has been given a hospital order, a court has confirmed.
Joseph Cooper, 24, pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court on August 13 last year to manslaughter through diminished responsibility, but denied the murder of his father, Winton Cooper. The prosecution accepted his plea after reports found he was mentally ill.
Judge Guy Boney QC ordered Cooper to attend hospital for treatment until he was deemed fit to be released, according to a court official.
Mr Cooper was a retired BBC Radio Sheffield reporter who was at the 1989 Hillsborough football tragedy where 96 Liverpool fans died. He was killed on the 22nd anniversary of the disaster. Stewart Jones QC, prosecuting, told the earlier hearing that the attack was so vicious that Cooper even broke the hammer handle in half as he used it, along with three kitchen knives and a pair of large secateurs, to inflict appalling injuries on his father.
Winton Cooper, 64, was discovered by police at the cottage in the picturesque Dorset village of Marnhull, near Sturminster Newton, on April 15 last year.
Cooper junior had a troubled childhood at the hands of his father and mother, who had drink problems, and Mr Cooper had been violent and abusive to his son. His parents had acrimoniously split in the 1990s. Joseph Cooper was the middle of three brothers and he had spent his younger years in care and in trouble with the police after his father did not want him and his mother could not cope with him, the barrister said.
Mr Cooper moved to Dorset after his retirement to look after his elderly father and eventually his son came to stay and Mr Jones said the pair lived a "peaceable existence" in the village revolving around going to the pub, local shops and home. But Cooper did attack his father in December 2009 with a bar and pleaded guilty to actual bodily harm, the court was told.
In April last year Cooper launched the fatal attack on the landing of their home just hours after Winton Cooper had told neighbours his son "was acting strangely". After the killing, Cooper phoned his brothers and mother Gail to say he had killed his father. Mr Jones said that, at first, all three were sceptical but eventually Mrs Cooper called the police and three officers turned up. "The scene that confronted the three there was a shocking and gruesome one," Mr Jones said.
Mr Cooper was found in the hallway, naked except for his socks, with the broken hammer, three bent knives and the secateurs beside him in a pool of blood, with terrible head injuries inflicted using severe force. Officers retreated from the house and called in armed police and Cooper was found nearby and arrested.
Two psychiatric reports found that Cooper suffered from such an abnormality of mind it had impaired his responsibility for his actions.
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