Son Admits Beating Father To Death

A son beat his retired journalist father to death with a hammer in a ''shocking and gruesome'' attack at the country cottage they shared in Dorset, a court has heard.

Joseph Cooper, 24, 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 Winton Cooper.

The 64-year-old was discovered by police at the cottage in the picturesque village of Marnhull, near Sturminster Newton, on April 15 last year.

Cooper pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court to manslaughter through diminished responsibility but denied murder. The prosecution accepted his plea after reports found he was mentally ill.

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, said 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.

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 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''.

Two psychiatric reports found that Cooper suffered from such an abnormality of mind it had impaired his responsibility for his actions.

Judge Guy Boney QC adjourned sentencing for a date to be fixed so that Cooper can undergo a hospital assessment.