Man convicted of murdering ex-partners who complained to police about violence

A man has been found guilty of murdering two of his former partners who had both complained to police about his violence.

Carl Cooper, 66, was in a relationship with Naomi Hunte, 41, who died from a stab wound to the chest, and Fiona Holm, 48, whose body has never been found, at different times.

Ms Hunte, of Woolwich, south-east London, was found dead on her blood-soaked sofa on Valentine’s Day in 2022 while prosecutors said Ms Holm is believed to have died on June 20 2023.

Naomi Hunte standing in front of a wall holding her arms in front of her
Naomi Hunte told police Cooper ‘stalks her’ (Metropolitan Police/PA)

A jury at Woolwich Crown Court on Thursday found the defendant guilty of two counts of murder after three days of deliberations.

The families of the two victims who were watching in court were visibly emotional as the verdict was given.

Scotland Yard later said there is still a £20,000 police reward for information which leads to Ms Holm’s remains being found as a detective branded Cooper a “dangerous, violent domestic abuser who preys on women with vulnerabilities”.

Ms Hunte made a number of domestic call-outs to police to her home in 2020 and 2021 and told them that handyman Cooper was “obsessed” with her, the court previously heard.

In a police call-out to her home on June 29 2021, she told officers that Cooper “stalks me and I’m really scared now”.

The prosecution believe that Ms Hunte was killed overnight on February 10.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be a stab wound to the chest while she had also drunk alcohol and taken drugs including cocaine and cannabis.

Her blood was later found on three different areas of Cooper’s jacket, and on a knife with a serrated blade which resembled a steak knife.

Ms Holm, of Catford, south-east London, had also made complaints about Cooper to the police.

Victim Fiona Holm looking at the camera
Fiona Holm, whose body has never been found (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Cooper lit fires in the immediate days after Ms Holm went missing and also carried out a “wholesale redecoration” of his living room, which included stripping off wallpaper, cutting out net curtains and removing a rug, prosecutor Joel Smith KC previously told the jury.

Narita Bahra KC, defending, previously told the jury to “take great care not to jump to conclusions” in what she described as a “very unusual case”.

After the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn, of the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “Carl Cooper is a dangerous, violent domestic abuser who preys on women with vulnerabilities.

“He took the lives of two vibrant, sociable women who were so very loved by their families and friends. Naomi and Fiona are in my thoughts today.”

DCI Blackburn, who said Cooper had “gone to great lengths” to remove traces of Ms Holm’s blood from his flat, paid tribute to the families of both women.

She said: “They have sat through court and heard the most difficult of information about the deaths of women they deeply loved. I cannot begin to understand the pain they will experience forever.

“While I am relieved that he will be incarcerated in a place where he poses no threat to women, my greatest regret will always be that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge him earlier.”

Cooper, of Hither Green, south-east London, will be sentenced at the same court on Tuesday.