Husband accused of murdering Cheryl Hooper in Newport 'was in financial difficulties'
A farmer accused of shooting his estranged wife to death outside her Newport home was in financial difficulties, a jury was told today.
Andrew Hooper, known as Jack, is alleged to have murdered his wife Cheryl with a shotgun on January 26 last year in a fit of rage and jealousy after she moved out.
Giving evidence today, prosecution witness Sally Ann Smith said Mrs Hooper was her “dearest friend” and had confided in her many times about the state of the marriage in the months leading up to her death.
Prosecutor Mr David Mason QC put to her: “Clearly the relationship deteriorated with the defendant to a point in December 2017 when Cheryl decided to leave.”
Mrs Smith replied: “Yes. After they got married, it was okay for a while. She would talk to me about anything that she was finding difficult.”
She explained that among the couple’s issues was the defendant’s failure to attend the funeral of one of his wife’s girlfriends, to support her.
The case so far:
- Cheryl Hooper: Court hears of neighbour's terror after Newport mother was shot
- 'He had murder in his eyes': Cheryl Hooper's daughter tells court of shotgun terror on Newport street
- Cheryl Hooper: 'Cold-blooded' farmer shot wife in front of teenage daughter outside Newport home, court told
Mrs Smith said: “It got her thinking about her own mortality because the person who died was quite young. It made her think that she wanted to live her own life happy.
“She was very upset about the situation she had got herself in, and how life was going for her.”
Mrs Smith also said the defendant paid a surprise visit to her home on December 30 after the split to talk about his problems. And she told him that his wife was not staying there.
"I believe that Jack was there to chat to us and off load, and also to find out where Cheryl was. It was a little embarrassing for Jack. It was an uncomfortable situation to be in.
"We made him a cup of coffee and talked."
She told the court he said he felt "guilty" that he had not been at home more in the last few weeks because he had been at the pub.
Mrs Smith said Hooper told her he was "under financial pressure" which was new information to her. He had "let some of the livestock go and had got an overdraft on the farm".
She added that "he wanted to keep the situation from Cheryl" and thought he was doing the right thing; "He said he thought he had failed".
Mr Mason asked her: "Did he say that Cheryl wanted to move out to get space?"
She replied: "He did find it difficult."
Hooper, 46, of Guild Lane, Newport, is alleged to have murdered his wife with a shotgun before turning the weapon on himself, after seeing her with another man.
Hooper, who has now lost the ability to speak due to severe facial injuries, denies murder. The trial continues at Birmingham Crown Court.
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