Man, 68, pleads guilty to murdering Tommy Cooper’s niece after magic shop owner, 68, was found stabbed to death in her home
- Tony King, 59, pleaded guilty to Sabrina Cooper’s murder at Lewes Crown Court
A man has pleaded guilty to murdering the niece of comedy legend Tommy Cooper.
Sabrina Cooper, 68, was found dead at an address in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in December last year following a report of concerns for her welfare.
Officers found the former magic shop owner, the daughter of Tommy Cooper’s brother David, lying dead inside the house.
She had suffered multiple stab wounds to her chest and abdomen and was found lying in a pool of her own blood.
Tony King, 59, pleaded guilty to her murder at Lewes Crown Court today, and a further charge of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.
Tony King (pictured outside Lewes Crown Court today) pleaded guilty to the murder of Tommy Cooper’s niece Sabrina
Sabrina Cooper, 68, was found dead at an address in Eastbourne , East Sussex, in December last year following a report of concerns for her welfare
Ms Cooper was the niece of comedian and magician Tommy Cooper, who died in 1984
Wearing grey sweatshirt and grey tracksuit bottoms, with white stubble and glasses King, who lived just a five minute walk from Ms Cooper in Eastbourne, stood impassively in the dock as he pleaded guilty to murder.
Ms Cooper’s daughter, Natasha, who was in court, fought back tears as King admitted the killing.
She bit her lip and shook and she stared directly at King as he was led down to the court cells.
Judge Christine Laing KC said the only sentence she could pass on the 59-year-old was one of life imprisonment.
Local residents paid tribute to Sabrina Cooper (left) who ran the local Cooper’s Magic Shop in Eastbourne, following her death in December. Pictured: in 2017
Tony King (pictured outside Lewes Crown Court last year) pleaded guilty to the murder of Tommy Cooper’s niece Sabrina
She said the only thing she had to decide was the minimum sentence she must impose before parole can be considered.
Ms Cooper was related to Welsh comic and magician Tommy – who died on stage from a heart attack in 1984 – through her dad David, who was Tommy’s brother.
She ran Cooper’s Magic Shops in Eastbourne, the family business set up by her parents until it closed in April 2017.
Ms Cooper was said to be heartbroken when she had to close the store – which was beneath her flat where she was discovered – due to challenges brought on by the internet.
She was once pictured with her daughter Natasha and mother Zena wearing a red fez hat famously worn by 6ft 3in Tommy during his performances.
In a tribute to her, Ms Cooper’s family said: ‘On behalf of the family, we thank everyone who has shown support and love as this nightmare has unfolded.
‘A loving and dedicated mother, a beloved grandmother and a popular member of the Eastbourne community, Sabrina enjoyed walking her dogs through Eastbourne where she would meet other like-minded people.
‘Like us, her dogs Abra and Tricks cannot understand what has happened as they pine, staring at the door, expecting Sabrina to return.”
One resident said: ‘She was a lovely lady, well-liked by everyone. It’s such a tragic thing. The shop in Eastbourne – which was part fancy dress – was iconic and everyone remembers it well.’
Another said: ‘She was a really beautiful person. She was so friendly and caring towards everyone she met. We can’t believe she has gone. We used to see her walking her dogs who she was devoted to.’
King will be sentenced at Lewes Crown Court next month.