Shropshire

Cheryl Hooper murder: Newport farmer jailed for life

Cheryl Hooper Image copyright West Mercia Police
Image caption Cheryl Hooper was described by her parents as "full of kindness"

A farmer who shot his estranged wife as she sat in her car outside her home has been jailed for life for her murder.

Cheryl Hooper, 51, was killed in front of her daughter outside her home in Newport, Shropshire, in January 2018.

Andrew Hooper, 46, who turned the shotgun on himself after the attack, now has severe facial injuries that mean he has lost the ability to speak.

After being found guilty by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court, Hooper was ordered to serve a minimum of 31 years.

'Planned execution'

Judge Mark Wall QC told Hooper: "The sentence that I must pass on you is one that you richly deserve - life imprisonment.

Telling Hooper he had not expressed any remorse or regret after leaving a "horrific aftermath" when he fled the scene, the judge added: "This was not a last-minute decision to kill, arrived at outside Cheryl's, but rather a planned execution."

Image copyright West Mercia Police
Image caption Andrew Hooper was found guilty by a unanimous verdict

Following the verdict, Det Insp Mark Bellamy from West Mercia Police said Mrs Hooper had been murdered by her "controlling and jealous husband in a premeditated act of the most savage violence".

The Crown Prosecution Service said, following their separation, Hooper had a tracker fitted to Mrs Hooper's car without her knowledge.

Image copyright Crown Prosecution Service
Image caption The Crown Prosecution Service said Hooper smashed the car's window with the shotgun before shooting his wife twice

The jury had heard Hooper suspected his wife was having an affair, and, on the night she was killed, tracked her to a pub in Wolverhampton and found her with friends and her suspected lover.

Later, he arrived at her home, he said, intending to frighten her into leaving the other man and resuming their marriage.

Mrs Hooper's daughter said the defendant "had murder in his eyes" when he shot her mother in her Range Rover.

Following the verdict, it emerged that Hooper was also given a suspended sentence in 2004 after breaking into his first wife's home and threatening to kill her.

Mrs Hooper's daughter Georgia, who was 14 at the time and witnessed the shooting, read a victim impact statement to the court.

"Mum was funny, beautiful and my best friend; the thought of her not being with me to share my life makes me very sad," she said.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Cheryl Hooper's daughter Georgia said her mum was her "best friend"

Judge Mark Wall QC told the teenager: "The way in which you have conducted yourself throughout this trial, which must have been extremely difficult for you, has been admirable and awe-inspiring.

"Your mother would, I have no doubt, been immensely proud of the way you have dealt with a tragic and difficult process."

Mrs Hooper's parents Tony and Rita said: "Cheryl was a wonderful daughter, mother, sister and friend; she was beautiful both inside and out - full of kindness to everyone she came into contact with."

The Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) said it had investigated contact Mrs Hooper had with police before her death, and published the results following the sentencing.

It said Mrs Hooper had made reports to Staffordshire Police about her estranged husband's behaviour, which had been referred to West Mercia Police, which covered Mrs Hooper's home area, to make appropriate safeguarding measures.

IOPC regional director Derrick Campbell said: "Police could not have reasonably foreseen the horrific event that transpired.

"While some inquiries could have been carried out more quickly or thoroughly, we found no indication that any officers or staff acted in a manner that would justify any disciplinary proceedings.

"Police decision-making and actions were carried out in compliance with relevant force and national policies."

However, the IOPC said it had recommended Staffordshire Police explore opportunities to improve communications with neighbouring forces.

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