Shropshire Farmer Jailed For Life For Estranged Wife's Murder

21 June 2019, 15:04 | Updated: 21 June 2019, 15:06

Andrew Hooper

Farmer Andrew Hooper has been found guilty of murdering his estranged wife in a shooting as she sat in her Range Rover outside her home.

Hooper, 46, who showed no emotion at the unanimous verdict, will be sentenced on Friday afternoon at Birmingham Crown Court.

He suffered severe facial injuries and lost the ability to speak after turning his shotgun on himself after the attack on Cheryl Hooper in Newport, Shropshire, in January last year.

Prosecutors had told the court that Hooper, known as Jack, had "murder in his eyes" when he deliberately shot his 51-year-old wife.

The Crown said he deliberately shot her in the neck from about 1.5 metres away because he was "consumed with anger and jealousy" after she left him at the end of 2017.

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

Prosecutor David Mason QC told the court: "This defendant, after they had separated, broke into her house one night armed with a knife and surgical gloves, and threatened to kill her and her new partner.

"That's the only conviction he has. He was prosecuted for aggravated burglary but in fact pleaded guilty to an affray and received a suspended sentence."

Mrs Hooper's daughter Georgia, who was 14 at the time and witnessed the shooting from inside the Range Rover, read a victim impact statement to the court, saying of her mother: "For her to just be gone, my whole life has gone."

The now 15-year-old added: "On January 26 2018 my life got turned upside down. I never imagined my life without my mum. Mum and I were inseparable, we were a team and we did everything together.

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

"I relied on her for everything - she was my world and I was hers."

After the statement, 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, have been immensely proud of the way you have dealt with a tragic and difficult process."

Speaking after the verdict, Detective Inspector Mark Bellamy, from West Mercia Police's Major Investigation Unit, said: "Cheryl Hooper was a devoted, loving mum, daughter and friend to her family and all those who knew her.

"Tragically she was murdered by her controlling and jealous husband in a premeditated act of the most savage violence.

"Hooper continued his controlling and cowardly behaviour by refusing to acknowledge his actions and forcing a young girl, traumatised by the incident, to give evidence at a Crown Court trial.

"I hope Hooper spends the rest of his life reflecting on the devastation that he has caused."

The officer added: "We have all been overwhelmed by the bravery of Cheryl's family and I hope that today's verdict provides them with a little relief from their pain."

Cheryl's parents Tony and Rita said in a statement: "We cannot fully express the sorrow, sadness and pain of losing our beautiful daughter Cheryl in such dreadful circumstances.

"As her family, we shared a wonderful close bond with her, she was so special, loving and caring in every way and we miss her every single day.

"We would like to thank those who tried to help Cheryl on the night and the police for all their help and support during this difficult time."

Georgia told the jury that Hooper, who lived on a 400-acre farm near Newport, had "murder in his eyes" when he deliberately shot her mother.

The killer was allowed to type out his answers on a keypad during his evidence, maintaining that he had only pointed the loaded shotgun at the car to scare his wife into a reconciliation.

During his evidence, Hooper claimed: "I live every day knowing I am responsible for her death. It is not a good feeling. I am not guilty of murder though."