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Murderer released from prison found guilty of killing Rhymney man given whole life sentence

Published in News at 11:00, Wednesday May 2nd, 2012. Last updated at 11:52, Thursday May 17th, 2012


David Cook

A convicted murderer released from jail on licence has been handed a whole life sentence after he was found guilty of a second murder.

David Cook, 65, of Tan Y Bryn, Rhymney, denied murdering 64-year-old next door neighbour Leonard Hill but admitted killing him.

Cook said he had strangled Mr Hill at his flat with a piece of flex after he “lost control” because of unwanted sexual advances by Mr Hill.

A jury at Newport Crown Court on Tuesday took just over an hour to reach a guilty verdict.

Sentencing Cook on Wednesday, Mr Justice Griffith Williams said: “You are a pathological liar who does not scruple to tell any lies to further your own interest.”

The Wales Probation Trust has asked for a Serious Case Review on the killing.

During the trial the jury was told how Cook was convicted of murdering a Sunday School teacher in Reading 24 years ago. She had been bound and strangled with a ligature like Mr Hill.

After killing Mr Hill in “a brutal, determined and merciless attack”, Cook stole keys to his neighbour’s bungalow and let himself in. He then stole cash and went to the Tredegar Arms pub and drank with locals.

During the trial, jurors were told by prosecuting barrister David Aubrey QC that after drinking at the pub, Cook returned to Mr Hill’s bungalow and spent the night.

He then left the decomposing body, hidden under a cushions in a bedroom, for 12 days.

Cook, who was convicted in 1988 of murdering Beryl Maynard in Reading and released on licence in 2009, claims Mr Hill had grabbed him by the private parts on the day of his death and had, on another occasion touched his bottom. It was this, he claims, that made him lose control and kill Mr Hill.

The court was told that Mr Hill had never exhibited any signs of homosexuality.

The prosecution claimed Cook had a history of robbery and lying to get money to pay debts. At the time of Mr Hill’s death, Cook was said to have owed £5,800.

Cook’s defence team said killing Mr Hill and stealing his possessions did not provide a motive for the killing as it was not enough to clear his debt.

Leonard Hill

In a statement released through Gwent Police after the verdict, My Hill’s family said: “Firstly we hope that David Cook will now spend the rest of his days in prison.

“We know that this will be no hardship for him but will at least protect any further victims and the pain caused to their devastated families.

“We should also like to thank Gwent Police for all the support they have given us.

“The family have further issues relating to Len’s murder and we are hopeful the Serious Case Review will provide some answers to our questions.

“We have been emotionally scarred by this terrible violent attack on our defenceless brother and feel even sadder as he was due to spend time in Spain with us now and we feel he would have been amazed at life here in the sunshine.”

In its statement, Gwent Police said: “We welcome the conviction of David Cook today and hope that it will bring a degree of closure for Len Hill’s family although we acknowledge it could never ease their pain at the loss of a beloved family member.

“David Cook will now be taken out of society and will not be able to put any other innocent members of the public at risk. The strength of evidence against him is a testament to the efforts of officers involved in the enquiry: a team of officers worked day and night including specialist forensic officers and analysts who gathered evidence to present to the court against David Cook. Our family liaison officers continue to provide support to the family at this dreadful time and our local neighbourhood officers have worked very closely with the community to allay any fears that this awful crime may well have caused.

“We are hopeful that out of this tragic event and the commissioning of the Serious Case Review the risk of an offence committed in similar circumstances is minimised.”


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