Man, 60, jailed for life over 'chilling' murder of Tommy Cooper's niece

23 June 2023, 18:37

Tommy Cooper's niece was discovered dead by her daughter at her Eastbourne home
Tommy Cooper's niece was discovered dead by her daughter at her Eastbourne home. Picture: Sussex Police/Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

A man has been jailed for life following the "chilling" murder of the niece of late comedian Tommy Cooper.

Tony King, 60, of Cornfield Terrace, Eastbourne, will serve a minimum of 22 years and 182 days for the murder of Sabrina Cooper, which was described as "motiveless and senseless" by Judge Christine Henson KC.

Sabrina Cooper, who ran a magic shop until 2017, was selling her property to start a new chapter in life, but was discovered dead by her daughter at her Eastbourne home on Sunday December 18 2022.

The grandmother was found in a pool of blood, with her family initially believing she had fallen down the stairs and reopened wounds from her recent operation recovering from cancer.

Police investigations later uncovered that she had suffered five stab wounds to her abdomen and chest.

King, who was a friend of Ms Cooper, was arrested after a number of text messages were found between himself and Ms Cooper arranging for him to help her with boxes for her impending move.

Read more: Handcuffed man, 25, guilty of murdering Met Police sergeant Matt Ratana with revolver in London police station

Read more: 'Safer than crossing the street': OceanGate CEO's desperate bid to convince businessman to join doomed Titanic trip

Tony King
Tony King. Picture: Sussex Police

The day before the murder, December 17, King texted Ms Cooper to ask if she wanted to get some fish and chips but she had already eaten and thanked him for the invite saying she would see him in the morning.

On December 18, CCTV showed the 60-year-old going to Ms Cooper's flat, and leaving around an hour later at 9.14am carrying an orange plastic bag.

Hove Crown Court was shown footage of King, the day before the murder took place, posting on his TikTok account to 11,000 followers saying: "Watch out for my next magic trick, it's going to be amazing."

In an unpublished TikTok video the following day, after the murder took place, he recorded himself saying: "I have just taken a life today."

During questioning with Sussex and Surrey police officers, he admitted the murder, telling investigators he was carrying a knife in his pocket for protection against a neighbour he had trouble with, but then "took it out, didn't say anything and just stabbed her", Miss Packham said.

King then told officers: "I just took her life and to this day I don't know why.

"She hadn't done anything wrong."

The court heard how after killing 68-year-old Ms Cooper, King had taken her passport and other ID documents, a bottle of wine, a bottle of Malibu and loose change from her flat which Judge Henson condemned as "callous and opportunistic".

Despite admitting the murder in interview, King proceeded to plead not guilty in two preliminary hearings, before changing his plea to guilty in May 2023.

In the courtroom were Ms Cooper's family and friends, including daughter Natasha Cooper and brother John Cooper who spoke of the "devastating" impact the murder has had on their family.

Mr Cooper learned of his sister's murder during a phone call to their mother, Zena, where he heard Natasha Cooper calling her on the landline screaming "she's dead, there's blood everywhere".

"In her final minutes she was faced with brutality and horror," he said.

"We are haunted of the thought of what she endured."

He spoke of his mother's loneliness now Ms Cooper, who was her primary carer and daughter was gone, and of his own relationship with his big sister, saying: "We played, we laughed, we fought, she was my sister and now she's gone."

Read more: Tommy Cooper's niece found in pool of blood after being stabbed to death, as killer faces life behind bars

Sabrina Cooper
Sabrina Cooper. Picture: Sussex Police

Ms Cooper's daughter described how since her mother's death she has had "good and bad days, most bad".

The mother-of-two said: "Mum had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone, she didn't deserve this."

Speaking tearfully from the witness box, she also glared at King, sitting opposite in the dock with his head down.

Defending, Lewis Power KC said King felt "ashamed" for what he'd done and had "constant guilt".

From a mental health assessment, doctors diagnosed King with a personality disorder with narcissist features and that alcohol and drug misuse exacerbated this.

They added he was an "angry" man who felt cheated in life.

King stared blankly as he was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of 23 years, with 183 days already served.

Speaking after the hearing, Natasha Cooper welcomed the sentence, hoping that her mother will be able to "rest in peace with the knowledge that justice has, at last, been served."

She added: "We do not believe for a second that this man has shown any remorse...this cowardly act will be his legacy."

On her mother, she said: "This is just the beginning of life...without Sabrina.

"The laughs we shared and the memory of this fantastic woman will remain with us forever."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Fans have been left in despair

Devastated England fans left holding their heads in despair after heartbreaking 2-1 defeat at Euros final

England lost to Spain in the Euro 2024 final

England's heartbreak as Spanish goal four minutes from time seals Euro 2024 final defeat

Prince William and Prince George at the Euro 2024 final

Smiling Prince George attends Euro 2024 final with Prince William as England face off against Spain

Kate with Charlotte at Wimbledon

Princess Kate looks radiant in purple as she presents Wimbledon trophy at men's final

Corey Comperatore was killed during the Trump rally attack.

Pictured: Man killed in shooting at Trump rally as he 'tried to shield family from bullets'

Carlos Alcaraz has retained his Wimbledon title

Carlos Alcaraz retains Wimbledon title as he beats Novak Djokovic for second year in a row

England are facing Spain in the final

England 1-2 Spain: Heartbreak for England as Spain win Euros 2024

Melania Trump shared an emotional statement on the incident

Melania Trump breaks silence after attempted assassination of husband Donald at rally

The wife and two daughters of racing commentator John Hunt were killed at their Hertfordshire home

Bereaved racing commentator John Hunt has fundraiser set up after wife and two daughters killed

Princess Kate has made just her second appearance since her cancer diagnosis - as she prepares to bestow the Wimbledon men's singles trophy at the All England Club.

Princess Kate arrives at Wimbledon as crowd applauds for royal's second engagement since cancer shock

Donald Trump was shot at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania yesterday

‘We will FEAR NOT’: Trump urges Americans to ‘stay united’ after attempted assassination

Graziano Di Prima has broken his silence

Strictly pro Graziano Di Prima allegedly 'spat, kicked and berated' Zara McDermott before sacking

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is helped off the stage at a campaign event in Butler, Pa., on Saturday, July 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Gunshots and a defiant fist: How the first attempted assassination against a Presidential candidate in 52 years unfolded

What will following the shooting of Donald Trump?

Donald Trump shot during campaign rally: Jon Sopel explains what it means for the US Presidential race

The nation is gripped by Euros fever

England expects! Nation gripped by Euros fever as fans prepare for historic final against Spain

Donald Trump has been shot through the ear at a rally in Pennsylvania - as one bystander was killed and two others were critically injured.

Pictured: Shocking scenes as gunman shoots Donald Trump during rally leaving one bystander dead