A 24-year-old man who tried to cover his murderous tracks by setting a house on fire after the unprovoked killing of Cy Cooper, has been told he faces a life sentence.
Paul Cain, aged 24, of no fixed address, was found guilty of murder by unanimous verdict at Sheffield Crown Court today.
The motive to the attack remains unclear but the prosecution said there was a ‘disagreement’ over living arrangements which included Mr Cooper’s nephew and former flatmate, Duane Cook.
Mr Cooper of Bluebell Close, Wincobank, was pulled out of a fire in his own home but was found with injuries unrelated to the blaze.
Graham Reeds QC, prosecuting, said Mr Cook had gone to live at Cain’s home with his dogs, ‘who were causing a smell’.
The court heard that on the day of Mr Cooper’s death, Cain had said he was going to visit him to ask if Mr Cook and his dogs could move back in with him instead.
The jury was told that Mr Cook had his dog and eight puppies in the house.
Cain’s aunt, cousin, and Duane Cook, all went over to Mr Cooper’s flat shortly after the Cain had set off.
When they arrived, they said they saw Cain standing over an injured Mr Cooper in the hallway.
Cain told the jury that he was smoking cannabis with his cousin and happened to walk past when he saw the fire.
The murderer said he gallantly ran into the burning house and pulled Mr Cooper out of the flames with the help of his cousin.
But Cain savagely beat the defenceless victim breaking 23 ribs, dislodging several teeth before slashing his neck with a sharp object.
The court heard that Cain tried to ‘cover his tracks’ by setting fire to combustible materials in a hallway cupboard.
It was initially thought by emergency services that Cain had tried to save Mr Cooper, but he was later arrested on suspicion of murder.
A post-mortem examination found that Mr Cooper had no soot in his lungs and was likely dead before the fire took hold.
Forensic and witness evidence gathered against Cain in just 48 hours was so compelling he was charged with Mr Cooper’s murder and appeared before Sheffield Magistrates’ on Saturday, August 1.
DCI Dave Stopford, who led the investigation, said: “Mr Cooper was a kind-hearted man who was well liked and respectable. He was quiet and gentle and did not like to argue or have confrontations, he kept himself to himself, and Cain took advantage of his mild-mannered nature.
“There was no natural disease which could have caused or contributed to Mr Cooper’s death, he died because of the injuries inflicted by Cain, who then believed he could outwit the authorities and get away with murder.
“Cain is a dangerous man and deserves to be behind bars for a very long time. His actions that night were utterly deplorable and he has caused needless pain and heartache for those close to Mr Cooper.
“This a truly devastating case and my thoughts go out to Mr Cooper’s family and friends, and I hope the result today offers them some comfort that justice has been served.
“I would also like to thank the witnesses who have shown true courage and bravery throughout the case and indeed, in providing evidence at the trial.”
In a statement from Mr Cooper’s sister, on behalf of the family, she said:
“As we have approached the start of trial to determine who was responsible for my brother’s death, it has been with a mixture of anticipation and dread.
“Whilst we have wished for the day to come so we can try to find answers to our many questions, we also understood that the truth would be painful and difficult to hear.
“It has been nearly impossible to concentrate on anything for any length of time and I find that Cy comes into my thoughts, morning, noon and night.
“It is so cruel that even after such a tragic life, in which Cy never got over the loss of his beloved son Ryan, that Cy was not able to find happiness and his life was cut so short.
“He will always be missed by his remaining family and friends and I hope above all that Cy will rest in peace, surrounded by our loved ones and that justice for his death has been granted.”
Cain is set to be sentenced tomorrow.