London - A callous and controlling farmer killed his estranged wife in front of her daughter after tracking her to a pub liaison with a married man, a court heard on Tuesday.
John Hooper, 46, ambushed Cheryl Hooper, 51, outside her new home, blasting her twice with a shotgun as she sat on the drive in her Range Rover Evoque.
She had just collected her 14-year-old daughter from a friend’s home on her way home from the pub, where she had met Ian Preece, a man she was ‘in the early stages of a relationship with’, and some of his friends.
The teenager told police her estranged stepfather ‘looked like a psychopath’ with ‘murder in his eyes’ as he fired through the car window.
Prosecutor David Mason QC, opening the trial at Birmingham Crown Court, said: ‘Hooper went there with murderous intent and did exactly what he meant to do. It was a brutal and cowardly act, committed by a man that was clearly consumed with anger and jealousy.’ Mrs Hooper, a dental practice manager, was shot in the arm and neck on January 26 last year. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Hoopers were both divorced when they met nine years earlier. Each had a child from their previous relationship and had been married just 18 months, jurors were told.
Mr Mason told how, less than three weeks before her death, Hooper had placed a tracking device under the floor of his wife’s car as he was determined to ‘know her every move’.
He tailed her to a pub in Tettenhall, near Wolverhampton, where Mrs Hooper had gone with a friend to meet Mr Preece.
But Mr Mason told how within 20 minutes of confronting his wife there, Hooper was back at their former marital farmhouse in Newport, Shropshire. CCTV showed him loading something ‘of a shape consistent with a shotgun’ into the back of his Land Rover. Mr Mason added: ‘The straw had broken the camel’s back. Hooper had his evidence. Now was the time to end it all.’
The prosecutor said it was not clear where Hooper had obtained the 19th-century murder weapon, as it was not one of six guns he held licences for and which a friend had removed after Hooper had threatened suicide weeks earlier.
Following the ‘cold-blooded, ruthless and callous execution’ outside the rented home in Newport, Hooper drove back to his farm and wrote a note to his son, outlining how ‘Cheryl has been cheating on me and the whole family’. He then shot himself but survived with massive facial injuries which have left him deformed and unable to speak. Hooper denies murder. The trial continues.Daily Mail