DOUBLE KILLER JAILED FOR LIFE – AGAIN

A double killer found guilty of a second brutal murder after his release from prison was jailed for life today and told that he will never be freed.

David Cook, 65, was yesterday found guilty of beating neighbour Leonard Hill, 64, unconscious and strangling him for petty cash.

The killing was a re-enactment of a merciless murder of a Sunday school teacher 24 years before for which Cook was jailed for life.

A judge at Newport Crown Court jailed him for life again today calling him a “pathological liar” whose murder of a trusting neighbour was chilling.

Judge Justice Griffith Williams said: “The sentence is one of life in prison.

“I consider the seriousness of this offence is exceptional so there must be a whole life order which means you will never be considered for release at some future date.

“You will spend your whole life in prison.”

The judge’s comments came today as questions were being asked about how such a man could have been released in the first place.

Little more than three years before he was freed on licence in late 2009 Cook went missing from an open prison.

Police at the time issued a public warning not to approach him as a week-long manhunt got under way.

He gave himself in more than a week later but the incident did not act to prevent his eventual release into the community.

The judge was at pains today to underline the fact that Mr Hill had in no way sexually propositioned Cook.

Evidence during the trial clearly supported this, but Cook had claimed he went into a rage as a result of such an incident.

The jury yesterday dismissed his claim in favour of the prosecution which argued that the murder was motivated simply by money.

That again echoed Cook’s motive for murdering Berkshire Sunday school teacher Beryl Maynard 24 years earlier.

Passing sentence today, the judge underlined how Cook used lies to manipulate the people around him to change address several times.

Each occasion was triggered by Cook’s need to flee creditors chasing him for payment of debts which had risen to £5,800.

“You are a pathological liar who does not scruple to tell any lie,” the judge told him.

He said that, in making a final move to an address in Rhymney, Cook found himself living next door to Mr Hill, a man whose reputation he had “wickedly traduced” – “Just as you lied at your trial in 1988 for the murder of Mrs Maynard,” he said.

Speaking of Mr Hill, he added: “The evidence established beyond doubt he was a very shy, anxious, heterosexual man. He was described by his brother as a gentle soul.

“The behaviour you alleged on his part was the very antithesis of his nature.”

The judge said that, while Cook’s motive for murdering Mr Hill was money, there was no possibility that he would find enough to clear his debts.

“You just wanted money for your immediate needs to fund activities in Cardiff and a lifestyle away from Rhymney.”

He said the murder of Mr Hill “was carried out in a chilling way as you first rendered him unconscious before you trussed him up and killed him with a ligature.

“Evidence suggests that he was unconscious or semi-conscious at the time. We cannot be certain.”

Cook’s conviction yesterday and the sentence today ensuring he will never be free again was widely welcomed.

But any joy at the outcome was tempered by the knowledge that Mr Hill would be alive today had Cook been kept behind bars.

The victim’s immediate family live in Spain and were not in court yesterday to hear the verdict.

But speaking from his home in Torrevieja in a brief TV interview yesterday, Mr Hill’s brother, John, said: “I am going to miss him for the rest of my life, and all the family will.

“It seems a bit of a cliche but he really was a gentle man.”

His wife, Caroll, said she was “disgusted” by the way Cook was monitored and said he should never have been placed next door to Mr Hill.

“Why would you put somebody like that next to somebody who wouldn’t understand? He should never have been put there,” she said, also speaking from Spain, in a BBC Radio Wales interview.

She said nobody had thought of Mr Hill’s welfare and the potential impact of putting Cook next door to him.

“No-one had even looked into who lived next door to him and was he now vulnerable against attack by Cook.

“Because it seems (Cook) only had one way of dealing with any kind of problem and that was with violence.”

She added that Mr Hill’s family had met the Probation Service and accused it of failing in its duty of care to the wider community.

“I feel they are utterly responsible and they know that,” she said.

Mrs Hill said the first failing had been with whoever had carried out the risk assessment on Cook before he was released.

She added: “I need to know whether the Probation Service knew he had all this debt. I need lots of answers.”

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