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Flamstead man jailed after pleading guilty to murdering neighbour

3 Jan 2020
  • Brian Coote pleaded guilty to murdering Christine Ford at his home last year.

  • He was jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years.

  • Christine's family have paid tribute to her.

A Flamstead man has today (Friday 3 January) been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 15 years after pleading guilty to murdering his next door neighbour last summer.

Brian Coote, aged 65, of High Street, was sentenced at Luton Crown Court after pleading guilty during a hearing yesterday (Thursday 2 January).

Christine Ford, aged 71, was found dead by officers at Coote’s almshouse on 27 July, 2019. Her family had become concerned after not being able to make contact with her and had returned from their holiday to try and find her.

Police were contacted after her home was found unlocked but she was not inside.

The mother of two had suffered fatal stab wounds and an injury to her head, which are believed to have been caused two days prior to Chris being found.

An investigation was subsequently launched by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit and Coote was identified as the main suspect.

A manhunt was launched and he was arrested on 29 July, having been hiding out in his car at locations including his nearby allotment for four days.

Investigations revealed that Coote had become habitually frustrated at people walking past his property to enter or exit their own, as entrance to the almshouses was gained by a communal path. He wrongly believed the area belonged to him.

He also wrote numerous letters to trustees complaining about Chris looking after her four grandchildren at her home.

Following a spell in hospital, for treatment to self-inflicted injuries, Coote was charged with murder on 2 August.

He appeared before Hatfield Remand Court the following day, where he was remanded into custody.

His trial was originally scheduled to start on 27 January, 2020.

In a statement, Chris’s family said: “On behalf of all of Chris’s family we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, with special thanks to our family liaison officers Jo-Anne Kerr and Barry Townson, who have been a constant support to us. We do not know how we would have got through this without them. Also a special thank you to Justine Jenkins, who has led the investigation along with her team.

“We are relieved that this has come to a conclusion today, however it will never bring our beautiful mother Chris back; we miss her dearly every day.

“We will have to live with the truly horrific actions of Brian Coote for the rest of our lives, but we will do everything in our power to make sure that she isn’t remembered for the frenzied, brutal and cowardly way that Brian cut her life short. Instead we will endeavour to make sure she is remembered for the loving, caring, unassuming and beautiful person she was, and for how much joy she brought to so many people. We will keep her memory alive for her grandchildren that she adored, and whom adored her.

“As a family we will now start to rebuild our lives, but Chris will never be far from our thoughts.

Detective Chief Inspector Justine Jenkins, from the BCH Major Crime Unit, led the investigation and said: “Our thoughts remain with Chris’s family and friends at what continues to be a very difficult time for them.

“Coote inflicted a brutal, unprovoked and prolonged attack on an innocent grandmother who was vibrant and full of life. She absolutely doted on her family and life will never be the same for them without Chris.

“No sentence will ever make up for what they have been through and what they have lost, but I hope that it enables them to begin the grieving process now they don’t have to relive events through a trial.”

Please note that the family do not wish to make any further statements to the press and we ask that their privacy is respected.

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