Cambridgeshire son found guilty of mother's murder after Googling about slitting her throat

John Cole, left, stabbed his mother Wendy Cole, right, to death at their home in March, Cambridgeshire.
Credit: Cambs Police
John Cole, left, stabbed his mother Wendy Cole to death at their home in March, Cambridgeshire. Credit: Cambs Police

A son who stabbed his mother to death after her health declined had Googled how long he would be jailed for if he cut her throat, police said.

When officers arrived at the bungalow John Cole shared with his mother Wendy, 70, they discovered her seriously injured and a laptop open nearby with an internet search reading: "If slit someone’s throat how long in prison?"

Peterborough Crown Court heard that Cole had not coped well with his mother's deteriorating health and had acted as her full-time carer, attempting to put a care plan in place for her in the weeks before he killed her.

Cole, of Oak Tree Close in March, Cambridgeshire, was found guilty of murder following a six-day trial in February and will be sentenced on 16 March.

The court heard that Cole, 36, had lived with his mother for six years, but as her health got worse he told social services he was depressed and had concerns over the cost of her care.

He broke down to his sister days before, telling her he could not cope. Cole’s sister noticed the house was clean but her mother was now “skin and bone” and had lost a lot of weight, said Cambridgeshire Police.

On 9 May 2021, he told a friend who has asked how he was that he "could be better".

At 3am the following day, Cole called 999 in distress and told operators he had “done something stupid” and said: “I’ve killed my mum and the dog”.

He added: “I’ve stabbed her several times, had thoughts in my head, they tell me to do it.”

He told police he was outside March Police Station and his mother was at home, and when officers arrived they found a bloodstained knife in the hallway and Mrs Cole still alive in her bed. The laptop was found in the next bedroom.

Despite medical attention, Mrs Cole died at the scene. A post-mortem examination showed she had been stabbed three times in the chest.

Son had searched for help

The laptop in Cole's bedroom was examined and showed evidence of Google searches including “how long can you get for murder with knife” and “if I stab and slit someone’s throat how long do I go jail for”.

Other searches included the words: “mum murdered”, “mum murdered by son with knife” and “son murdered mum with knife”.  There were also searches for home care and care agencies in March.

Just minutes before he attacked his mother, Cole had searched: “If mother and son live together and mum goes into care home, can he stay at the home”.

Investigations revealed that Cole had tried to get counselling, help with mental health and depression and the Samaritans, and made regular searches relating to care providers.

He was later diagnosed with anxiety disorder, and then charged with murder.

Det Insp Rich Stott, of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said: “This has been a thorough and extensive investigation under terribly sad circumstances, and I am glad it has reached a conclusion.

“What Cole did that day was a brutal and horrific act of violence, which saw a woman who was a mother, a friend and a neighbour tragically lose her life."