Son jailed for life for killing mother

A MAN who beat his mother to death with a hammer after she criticised how he was hanging a painting has been told he will serve at least 13 years of a life sentence before he can apply for parole.

By Annie Davidson

A MAN who beat his mother to death with a hammer after she criticised how he was hanging a painting has been told he will serve at least 13 years of a life sentence before he can apply for parole.

Steven Dicker, 36, had admitted murdering his mother Jean Dicker at the bungalow they shared in Clacton in 2003.

At Basildon Crown Court yesterdayhe was jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 13 years by Judge Philip Clegg.

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Dicker told police he “lost it” after his 58-year-old mother criticised the way he was trying to hammer in nails to re-hang some paintings.

He turned on her and hit her over the head with the hammer, then stamped on her face when she tried to get up.

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The killer covered his tracks by disposing of his blood stained clothes, the murder weapon and his mother's handbag to make it look like a burglary gone wrong.

Police admitted he would have got away with the crime, due to the lack of forensic evidence, had he not suddenly confessed during an interview more than a year later.

After yesterday's hearing, Dicker's sister, Tracy Kinton, said: “I cannot begin to put into words what impact this has had on our entire family but today it has come to an end and justice has prevailed.

“Life is full of surprises. If you had asked me 'Could my brother kill someone?' the answer would be no. How wrong can you be? He deserves his sentence.”

Dicker, dressed in jeans and a blue sweater, stared at the floor of the dock throughout yesterday's two-hour hearing and showed no reaction to the sentence.

Peter Lodder, QC, told the court Dicker called emergency services at 11.21pm on January 29, 2003.

He claimed to have returned to the bungalow he shared with his mother, a former traffic warden, in Craigfield Avenue, Clacton, to find her lying dead in the hallway.

Dicker had moved into the home after his father, Len, died of cancer in May 2002. Paramedics described the scene as “quite horrific” when they arrived.

Mrs Dicker was in a foetal position, lying in a pool of blood with such severe head injuries that her cranial bone was exposed and a fragment of bone was on the floor next to her.

Dicker was initially arrested at the scene but told within minutes that he was no longer under arrest.

He told police he had gone out at 7.45pm and left his mother watching television, while he visited two friends locally and went to an off-licence.

Dicker claimed his found his mother's body on his return home and later joined in press appeals for help in catching the murderer and left a floral tribute to her outside the bungalow.

Mr Lodder said police were unhappy with Dicker's account of what happened but had little beyond their suspicions until he was arrested a year later in May 2004 as a suspect.

Not long into the first interview, Dicker admitted he had killed his mother, saying: “I was putting some picture hooks up for mum, the decorators had been in and I was putting some picture hooks in.

“I couldn't get the nail in, she started calling me stupid. I just hit her with the hammer, three times I think.

“She tried to get up, I stamped on her face. I just panicked after that, I just panicked.”

But Mr Lodder said forensic evidence indicated Dicker's account was not truthful and that his mother had been subjected to a sustained attack, possibly while she was on her knees in the hallway.

He told police he changed back into his work clothes and “just left her to die” as he went out in his car to dispose of his blood-stained clothes and Mrs Dicker's handbag.

He weighed the clothes down with stones and threw them in the sea before throwing the handbag and hammer in a hedge in Great Holland.

Dicker then visited friends and went to an off-licence where he would be caught on CCTV to establish an alibi.

Three months after the killing, Dicker moved the hammer to a lay-by on the A133 between Clacton and Colchester.

The handbag and hammer were recovered by police after Dicker confessed.

Mr Lodder said Dicker stood to benefit the most financially from his mother's death.

Michael Wolkind, QC, mitigating, said: “Steven knows his mother did not deserve to die. Steven does not argue that the pressure that arose from his life with his mother once his father died does not come anywhere close to excusing his behaviour.”

He said Mrs Dicker had changed once her husband died and instead of being appreciative of her son, she was critical of him. He added Dicker's sister had sent him a text message to ask when he was marrying his mother.

He said the argument that led to the killing was when Mrs Dicker wanted her son to take her out one weekend but he was going to see his ex-partner.

Mrs Dicker then described the woman as “an unsuitable mother”, said she would call social services and threatened to commit suicide if her son saw the ex-partner.

The court heard this was a serious threat as Mrs Dicker had attempted suicide before for which she was hospitalised and received psychiatric treatment.

A doctor who interviewed Dicker after the killing found evidence of psychiatric problems dating back to childhood when he was bullied by schoolmates and his sister.

He said he was suffering from a bereavement reaction to his father's death when he killed his mother and that the relationship between Dicker and his mother was “over-dependent.”

Sentencing Dicker, Judge Clegg said: “I have no doubt that you felt she was cramping your life and you had become resentful towards her.”

Detective Superintendent Gareth Wilson, who led the investigation, said outside court: “It's fair to say that if Steven had not admitted the murder we would not be here today.

“His confession came out of the blue during an interview.”

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