Burglar, 23, who murdered and sexually assaulted pensioner jailed for life

Will Taylor
News Reporter
Reece Dempster, left, has been sentenced over Dorothy Woolmer's death, right (PA/Met Police)

A 23-year-old man who sexually assaulted and killed a pensioner in her home has been jailed for life for her “sexual or sadistic” murder.

Reece Dempster murdered 89-year-old Dorothy Woolmer in August last year while stealing money to fuel his drug habit.

He initially denied murder and sexual assault but admitted burgling her and attempted to plead guilty to an alternative count of manslaughter. He changed his pleas on Wednesday.

Mr Justice Edis, sentencing, 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.”

During Dempster’s trial, jurors were told how he cased Mrs Woolmer’s house, where he had done gardening work in July 2019.

Reece Dempster has been jailed for a minimum of 34 years (PA/Met Police)

He broke into her home before 11pm on 3 August and found her asleep in bed, and had armed himself with a truncheon found in her cupboard.

Prosecutor Anthony Orchard QC said: “He attacked her, battering her about the head numerous times, probably because he wanted to know where the money was kept, before sexually assaulting her.”

Ms Woolmer suffered severe injuries to her head and groin area in Dempster’s attack.

Mr Orchard added that Dempster had gone to the house for money and said: “Tragically Dorothy Woolmer was killed due to Reece Dempster’s need to feed his lust for drugs and alcohol.”

Dempster spent about seven hours at the home in Tottenham, fleeing at about 6am to his father’s house and vomiting on the way, jurors were told.

Police outside Mrs Woolmer's home in August last year (SWNS)
Emergency services on the scene at Waltheof Gardens (SWNS)

Dempster, who has two previous convictions for burglary and breached a suspended sentence at the time, left after nine minutes in a spare change of clothes.

The jury was told how Dempster told an ex-partner: “Nik, I need to tell you something.

“The other night I was around my dad’s house with my dad and (Dempster’s brother) Aaron.

“We were smoking crack and drinking three or four bottles of gin and I was completely f*****.

“I went off and I went to rob a house. I think I hurt someone.”

He added: “You have to understand I was smoking crack and drinking gin, I just blacked out and then I turned a light on and there was blood everywhere.

“And then I ran.”

He continued: “It’s really bad, it’s really bad. I wasn’t expecting anyone to be in there. I’m going to be in so much trouble.”

He also told the ex-partner: “I only got a hundred quid – it wasn’t even worth it.”

Speaking after the trial, Mrs Woolmer’s family said in a statement: “Dot was a wonderful, full of life, beautiful woman.

Dorothy Woolmer (Met Police)

“Family was everything to her and she was everything to us.

“The events surrounding Dot’s death have brought extreme amounts of heartache and stress to our entire family. She was taken from us in such a cruel way.”

Judge Edis praised the family for their dignity in sitting through proceedings.

Lilian Richardson, Mrs Woolmer’s sister, described how she had been unable to walk past Mrs Woolmer’s home since the killing, and said: “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.”

Detective inspector Garry Moncrieff said after the case, which started this week and had been due to last for three weeks: “This case was one of the most disturbing I have ever encountered.

“Even the most experienced officers were shocked at the extent of the violence and the depth of the defendant’s depravity.

“How someone could perpetrate such vile acts on a lone and vulnerable elderly woman is beyond my comprehension.

“Dorothy Woolmer was a proud and independent woman and to have her life ended by this man’s monstrous acts is beyond tragic.”