Dartmoor Haytor deaths: Ex-partner on attack charge

Joshua, Katherine Hooper and Samuel
Image caption Katherine Hooper with sons Joshua, who died with her at Haytor and Samuel, were known to social services

The former partner of a mother who died with her five-year-old son in a fall from a Dartmoor Tor has been charged with attacking her three months ago.

Neil Patterson, 52, denies assault, which relates to an offence in April, and will appear in court next month.

Katherine Hooper, 24, and eldest son Joshua, five, died after falling 80-100ft (24-30m) at Haytor on Friday.

The body of Ms Hooper's two-year-old son Samuel was later found at her home in Dukes Close, Paignton.

Police have launched a murder investigation, but said they were not looking for anyone else.

Image caption Katherine Hooper went missing from her home for 24 hours earlier in the year

Mr Patterson, formerly of Dukes Close, appeared before Torbay magistrates on 30 April where he pleaded not guilty to assault by beating Ms Hooper on 28 April and was remanded on bail.

Family 'devastated'

On Friday, Mr Patterson said he was "devastated" that the "three most important and cherished people in my life had been taken from me".

Police said the family were known to social services and a serious case review had been launched into their care.

Ms Hooper was also the subject of a police search earlier in the year after she went missing.

The Dartmoor Rescue Group joined the search before she was found "safe and well" 24 hours later in Paignton.

Pupils and staff at the school attended by Joshua are to be offered counselling, Torbay Council said.

Police are making a forensic examination of Ms Hooper's house at Dukes Close and post mortem examinations are due to take place in the next few days.

Det Supt Paul Burgan of Devon and Cornwall Police said: "The family of Katherine, Josh and Sam are clearly devastated by the events of the last 24 hours and are being supported by police family liaison officers at this difficult time.

"Clearly this is a tragic set of circumstances and our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends of Katherine, Josh and Sam at this terrible time."

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