A burglar has been sentenced to a minimum term of 34 years in prison for the “sexual or sadistic” murder of an 89-year-old widow in her own bed.
Reece Dempster, 23, looked to the floor and nodded to the judge as he was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Thursday for breaking into the home of “independent” and “feisty” Dorothy Woolmer while she slept, in August last year, brutally attacking the victim.
The thug, who said he had been drinking gin and smoking crack beforehand, sexually assaulted the elderly woman, who was less than 5ft tall and had bone condition osteoporosis, and battered her around the head and body, inflicting fatal injuries.
The judge, Mr Justice Edis, appeared emotional as he praised Mrs Woolmer’s family for their dignity in sitting through proceedings.
Regularly making eye contact with Dempster as he read out his sentence, the judge said: “I have no doubt your behaviour was influenced by your consumption of drink and crack cocaine, but that does not excuse what you did.
“Actually, it makes it worse.
“She (Mrs Woolmer) was tiny and defenceless and you knew that.
“Because of you, she died an unimaginably dreadful death.
“You seemed to have killed her for pleasure in your drunken state, the murder involved sexual or sadistic conduct.
“You are a very dangerous man.”
Dempster, who was nearly 1ft 6in taller that his victim, initially admitted manslaughter but denied murder.
However, he changed his pleas on the third day of the trial, also admitting two counts of assault by penetration.
The court heard Dempster was raised by his grandmother, but became acquainted with his drug-addict father, Mark Vaughan, in later years.
It was Mr Vaughan, the court was told, who encouraged Dempster to commit crime to feed their drug habits.
Prosecutor Anthony Orchard QC said Dempster had two previous convictions for burglary in the area, and breached a suspended sentence at the time of the killing.
However, he was not on a curfew or a tag at the time, he said.
The court heard Dempster had “cased” Mrs Woolmer’s home in Waltheof Gardens, Tottenham, north London, having carried out gardening work at the property a month before the attack.
He broke into the home on August 3 2019 while Mrs Woolmer, known as Dot, was asleep.
He then attacked and violated her body, in her bed, inflicting brutal injuries after finding a truncheon in the victim’s downstairs cupboard.
He fled the scene the following morning with her purse and at least two bottles of alcohol, Vermouth and port, vomiting several times on the way.
He later told an acquaintance that he “only got a hundred quid”, adding: “It wasn’t even worth it.”
Mrs Woolmer’s lifeless and bloodied body was found, semi-naked, in her bed, by her sister and a close friend who were concerned when she failed to answer the door for her morning newspaper.
The victim’s sister, Lilian Richardson, described how she had been unable to walk past Mrs Woolmer’s home since the killing, adding: “This is the most horrific thing we have all had to go through.
“The fact that there is a person like him living and breathing the same air as Dot is unthinkable.
“He deserves to know how it has made us all feel.
“He deserves to spend the rest of his life locked away in a room … feeling powerless, like he made Dot feel that night.”
She added: “The events surrounding my sister’s death have brought extreme amounts of heartache and stress to me and my entire family as we are such a close family.
“She was the best big sister anyone could have ever asked for.”