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Man who murdered his mum at Cambridgeshire home as he struggled to look after her is sentenced to life in prison

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A man who stabbed his mother to death as he struggled to look after her when her health declined has been sentenced to life in prison.

John Cole, of Oak Tree Close, in March, will serve a minimum term of 11 years for the murder before he is considered for release, following the sentencing by Judge Sean Enright at Peterborough Crown Court today (March 16).

John Cole, 36, of Oak Tree Close, in March, was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 11 years, on March 16, 2022. Picture: Cambridgeshire police (55491298)
John Cole, 36, of Oak Tree Close, in March, was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 11 years, on March 16, 2022. Picture: Cambridgeshire police (55491298)

Cole was found guilty of murder by a jury following a six-day trial at the court that began on February 21.

The jury heard that Cole lived in a bungalow for six years with his mother Wendy, 70, and effectively acted as her full-time carer.

He rarely ventured out and had little social life.

When her health gradually deteriorated, Cole attempted to put a care plan in place, contacting several companies, but later told social services he was depressed and had concerns over the cost.

On May 7, 2021, social services asked if he could manage one more week while they put a care package in place.

The 36-year-old took his mother to her GP surgery for a routine appointment, where a nurse noted she was frail but found no other issues.

Wendy Cole, who was murdered by her son John Cole, 36, of Oak Tree Close, March (55491300)
Wendy Cole, who was murdered by her son John Cole, 36, of Oak Tree Close, March (55491300)

But the next day Cole became tearful while food shopping, telling a member of staff he knew that his mum could no longer do anything, that he had to do everything but that nothing was good enough.

He broke down again later during a visit by his sister, telling her he could not cope.

Cole’s sister noticed the house was clean but found her mother was now “skin and bone” and had lost a lot of weight.

However, Wendy was reluctant to move into a care home.

When a friend asked Cole on May 9 over WhatsApp how he was, Cole replied, saying he “could be better”.

At 3am the following day, he called 999 in a distressed state and told operators he had “done something stupid” and said: “I’ve killed my mum and the dog”.

He added: “I’ve stabbed her several times - had thoughts in my head. They tell me to do it.” He told the operator his mum was in her bedroom at home and he was outside March police station, where police found him hyperventilating and unable to tell them what had happened.

Thirteen minutes after Cole’s 999 call, police arrived at the home in Oak Tree Close and discovered a bloodstained knife in the hallway.

Wendy was in bed, but still alive.

A laptop in the other room had a Google search which read: “If slit someone’s throat how long in prison”.

Despite medical assistance given to Wendy, she was pronounced dead half an hour later.

A post-mortem examination found she had suffered stab wounds and cuts to her neck but had died from being stabbed three times in the chest.

There were also minor cuts to both her hands, which suggested she had tried to defend herself.

The laptop from Cole’s bedroom showed in the days leading up to the murder, he had made a number of Google searches, including “how long can you get for murder with knife” and “if I stab and slit someone’s throat how long do I go jail for”.

Other searches included the words: “mum murdered”, “mum murdered by son with knife” and “son murdered mum with knife”. There were also searches relating to domiciliary care and care agencies in March.

Cole had run similar Google searches just minutes before he murdered his mum.

He also searched for: “If mother and son live together and mum goes into care home, can he stay at the home”.

In April last year, he had made searches relating to counselling, help with mental health and depression and the Samaritans. From early May there were regular searches relating to care providers.

Cole was arrested on suspicion of murder and taken to Peterborough City Hospital. He was found to be medically fit and discharged with a diagnosis of anxiety disorder.

Police did not consider him fit for interview but he was later charged with murder.

Jurors took just over three hours of deliberating to find him guilty.

Det Insp Rich Stott, of the Beds, Cambs and Herts Major Crime Unit (MCU), said: “This has been a thorough and extensive investigation under terribly sad circumstances, and I am glad it has reached a conclusion.

“What Cole did that day was a brutal and horrific act of violence, which saw a woman who was a mother, a friend and a neighbour tragically lose her life. My thoughts and sympathies are with her family.”

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