After informing the police and a brief appearance at the inquest and trial, Doris leaves this story.
DI Simon Harker was assigned to the murder. Harker, now long retired, recalled the case as one ‘by the book’. House to house questioning, children and teenagers spoken to, routine to the point of being mundane. A week after the murder, Carl Stokoe was arrested. Stokoe was an itinerant or to use the language of the time; a tramp.
Over the week a large Romany group had built up across the city car parks, and indeed anywhere else they could find. The Cooper family were well thought of in the Romany community and the large influx reflected that standing.
Once again, according to Harker, there was no need ‘obtain’ a confession from Stokoe. He freely admitted the murder and told the police where they could find the knife he had used. One thing he couldn’t do was to say why he had done it. His defense at the trial had pointed out his service in World War II and how, upon his return, he had never been the same man, drifting from place to place, job to job.
The trial was fairly perfunctory with Stokoe being found guilty and sentenced to a whole life term. The Cooper family were vocal about the verdict, and made a few promises about justice being done once Stokoe was in prison.
The incident faded from the mainstream media, until Mrs Cooper made known her plans to perform a Romany ritual at the church to ease the spirit of her slaughtered child.
The church authorities were vehemently against any form of non christian ritual taking place on consecrated ground, and hired a nightwatchman to ensure that was the case during the night time hours.
They did not reckon with the ingenuity of the Coopers.
The nightwatchman was found one morning slumped on the steps of the church, supposedly a victim of a strong sedative being slipped into his tea. It was widely thought, although never admitted, he had accepted a drink from a friendly passerby.
Needless to say the press were on the scene, the outrage of the locals no longer directed at the brutal murder of a child, but now towards the ‘gypsies’. Photographs were taken of a priest from another parish kicking around the assortment of feathers, bones and trinkets that comprised part of the ritual.
The Cooper family did not take this insult lying down.