THE former lover of mother-of-one Kathryn Cook was yesterday charged with her murder, eight months after she lost her fight for life.
Durham Police confirmed that Paul Northey, 40, formerly of Wylam Road, Stanley, County Durham, had been charged with the murder of a woman, 44.
Ms Cook was found lying unconscious with severe head injuries by her daughter Rebecca, then 11, at her home in Penshaw Gardens, Stanley in June last year.
Seven months later – on January 14 this year – Northey was jailed for eight years by a judge at Durham Crown Court for causing grievous bodily harm with intent, a charge he had admitted at an earlier hearing.
As he was sentenced Kathryn still lay in a coma 12 miles away in Bishop Auckland General Hospital. Four days later she died without regaining consciousness.
Police then submitted a new file to the Crown Prosecution Service and yesterday a force spokesman said Northey would appear before Consett magistrates on October 1 charged with Kathryn’s murder.
He will be brought under escort from his prison cell to the dock.
A force statement said: “Paul Northey, the man currently serving an eight-year sentence for an attack on a 44-year-old woman who died earlier this year, was charged with her murder this afternoon.
“Kathryn Cook, who lived in Penshaw Gardens, Stanley, suffered severe head injuries in the assault at her home in June 2008. She never regained consciousness.
“She died at Bishop Auckland General Hospital in January – less than a week after Northey was jailed at Durham Crown Court.
“He had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing, to wounding with intent.
“Northey, who is 40, will appear before Consett Magistrates on October 1.”
In February Durham's deputy coroner Brenda Davison opened and adjourned an inquest into Kathryn’s death pending further investigations by police.
During her seven months in a coma, Kathyrn was visited every day by her parents Kathleen and Philip Cook, both 69, and at weekends by Rebecca.
Kathleen described her daughter as “a very bubbly person and very friendly, who wouldn't hurt anybody”. She worked with her mother in the laundry at the Beamish Park Hotel.
Mrs Cook said: “Kathryn was a generous, kind and loving person.
“Although she was in a coma, she knew when we were there and recognised our voices. She would grip Rebecca’s hand.”
Her father Philip, a retired Derwentside District Council worker, said last night the family were “delighted” by the turn of events.