Evil double killer dies in prison aged 74 following positive Covid test


A double killer who was told he would never leave jail after murdering his neighbour and a Sunday school teacher had died in prison following a positive Covid-19 test.   

David Cook, 74, had been admitted to hospital on December 7 after testing positive for coronavirus at the jail.  

Cook, who was one of around 70 prisoners serving a whole life sentence in England and Wales, killed a Sunday school teacher in 1987 and neighbour Leonard Hill, 64, in June 2011.

David Cook (pictured), 74, had been admitted to hospital on December 7 after testing positive for coronavirus at the jail

He was found unconscious in his bed in the healthcare unit at high security HMP Frankland, Brasside, Durham. 

Officers were unable to attempt resuscitation as Cook had a ‘do not resuscitate’ (DNR) order in place. 

Cook was discharged from hospital on the December 23 and asked for the DNR order to be activated.

He died the following day on Christmas Eve and did not have any underlying health issues.

He was found unconscious in his bed in the healthcare unit at high security HMP Frankland, Brasside, Durham

He was found unconscious in his bed in the healthcare unit at high security HMP Frankland, Brasside, Durham

A Prison Service spokesperson said: ‘HMP Frankland prisoner David Cook died in custody on 24 December 2020.

‘The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed.’

Cook is the third high profile killer to die at Frankland jail of Covid-19 since the pandemic struck in March 2020.

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, 74, died on November 13 after picking up the virus in jail.

He was transferred to hospital but like Cook refused to let medics treat him.

Camden Ripper Anthony Hardy, 69, who murdered three prostitutes, contracted sepsis at Frankland. 

He is also believed to have tested positive for Covid and died on November 26 last year.

Sutcliffe, Hardy and Cook were all whole-life prisoners.

Cook was serving a whole life tariff after being found guilty in 2012 of the murder of Leonard Hill, (pictured) in Rhymney, Caerphilly, South Wales

Cook was serving a whole life tariff after being found guilty in 2012 of the murder of Leonard Hill, (pictured) in Rhymney, Caerphilly, South Wales

Cook was serving a whole life tariff after being found guilty in 2012 of the murder of Mr Hill, in Rhymney, Caerphilly, South Wales.

During the trial at Newport Crown Court, the jury heard details about Cook’s first killing in 1987.

He was jailed for life in 1988 for strangling 37-year-old Beryl Maynard in her Reading home during a violent robbery.

They had become pen-pals when Cook was in prison for robberies committed in the 1980s.

He served 21-years and was released on parole in 2009 despite absconding from an open prison just three years before.

At the time of his escape, Cook was branded a danger to the public during a week-long manhunt.

After being released on licence, Cook eventually moved next door to Mr Hill a little more than 10 weeks before the killing.

The jury was told he was fleeing from creditors and had run up debts of £5,800.

Mr Hill’s murder was chillingly similar to the strangulation of Beryl Maynard two decades earlier.

Both were subdued by overwhelming violence before being bound, gagged and strangled to death with a ligature.

The murders were motivated by the need for relatively small amounts of cash after Cook run up debts.

During his trial Cook admitted that he had killed and robbed for cash in the past.

But he had insisted throughout that the killing of Mr Hill was a crime triggered by unwanted sexual attention.

He claimed the strangulation was not murder because he lost control and killed his neighbour in anger.

A jury took little more than an hour to reject that version of events.

Passing sentence, Justice Griffith Williams said he was giving Cook a whole life order as the seriousness of the offence was ‘exceptionally high’.

The judge told Cook: ‘You are a pathological liar, who does not scruple to tell any lie to further your interests’.

He said Mr Hill was a very ‘anxious, private, heterosexual man’ whose alleged behaviour was ‘the very antithesis of his true nature’.

‘You took advantage of the trusting nature of Leonard Hill when you needed money,’ the judge added.

‘It is aggravated by the vulnerability of your victim and with an element of premeditation.

‘The murder was carried out in a chillingly deliberate way’.

The court heard that Cook ransacked Mr Hill’s bungalow after the killing, stealing his wallet before going to a nearby pub for a drink.

He then went about his business as normal for 12 days while his victim’s body decomposed.

After the guilty verdict, Mr Hill’s family criticised the probation service.

Mr Hill’s sister-in-law Carol Hill said the family needed to know who assessed Cook as being safe to release on licence and subsequently monitored him.

She said: ‘In 2008 when he escaped from an open prison he was deemed to be dangerous. And then suddenly he’s fine.

‘I need to know whether the probation services knew he had all this debt. I need lots of answers.’

Wales Probation Trust has offered its ‘deepest sympathies’ to Mr Hill’s family.

The trust said a review of the case would look at how all the agencies work together but said it would not comment further.

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