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8 JUN 2013
THE man accused of murdering Reading Museum worker Josephine Cockell took the stand in court yesterday and revealed how he contacted spirits to tell him when she would die.
And the day he used a crystal technique to get in touch with the spirit world was the same day she kicked him out of her home.
He told the court he came up with the date December 19.
It is alleged Peter Noble, 46, killed her two weeks before the predicted date by putting a knife to her throat, pushing her against a wall and repeatedly stabbing her in his Stanley Grove home on December 5 last year.
Hexagon theatre worker Noble, a keen spiritualist, said he had marked September 24 in his diary as the day he had left Mrs Cockell’s Salisbury Road home.
Earlier in the trial, the jury had heard police had discovered Noble in bed with Mrs Cockell’s dead body and found a note under the deathbed predicting she would die on December 19.
This was dated September 24.
But Noble told the court: “I can see no significance in the date Sepember 24.”
Noble said he had heard rumours she wanted ditch him but said Mrs Cockell had come round on December 5 to give him advice on a will he wanted to make.
He said: “I remember Jo coming in, kissing in the hall way, and Jo going to sit in the living room.
“Jo was sitting on the sofa and I knelt down in front of her. We often talked like that”, he said.
However, he said from that point he remembered nothing but hearing her last breaths and seeing a knife on the floor.
Noble denies murdering Mrs Cockell, claiming diminished responsibility on the grounds he was suffering from an abnormality of the mind caused by depression.
He said after killing his lover he stripped and washed her before moving her into the basement bedroom were he filmed her with two knives buried deep inside her.
He then told the court he dressed her, composed his suicide notes, one of which he posted to the Thames Valley Police Headquarters at Kidlington, before trying to kill himself.
Noble told the jury he tried to overdose on his Prozac pills and Mrs Cockell’s cholesterol tablets but when they didn’t work he bought sleeping pills and tried to slit his wrists.
“I was hoping not to be there when the police arrived,” he said, “I was hoping I would be dead.”
He added: “I had a syringe and needle and wanted to put air in my veins, but I was shaking like a leaf, I couldn’t do it. It would have been too painful.
“On Saturday, December 8 I realised I hadn’t succeeded and gave up.”
Police found Noble in bed next to Mrs Cockell on Sunday, three days after he stabbed her to death.
Prosecutor Paul Reid said: “When Jo asked you to leave her home in September you at that stage began to realise the your relationship was over.
“You killed Jo Cockell that night. You knew you were going to kill her at some time but something happened there to make it happen earlier.
“She said something to you, something about terminating the relationship? You snapped and you stabbed her to death.”
Mr Reid said the pathologist had got it wrong earlier in the trial when he said only one knife was used and no restraints had been involved. Mr Reid said the cut to Mrs Cockell’s throat gave it away.
He said: “I suggest that there was a knife at her throat, you had it in your right hand and you held her up against the wall.
“I suggest that you also had a knife in your left hand. It was that left hand you used to do that stabbing.”
Noble replied: “I don’t know because I can’t remember, I wish I could.”
Mr Reid put it to Noble that he had spent the weekend making up his defence.
Noble denied the allegation. The case continues.
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Stagehand guily of lover’s murder — (Get Reading)
The jury in the Peter Noble murder trial took just under two hours yesterday to find him guilty of murdering his lover.
The three men and nine women were out of Reading Corwn Court for only 100 minutes before returning to give their verdict that The Hexagon stagehand was guilty of Josephine Cockell’s murder.
As the unanimous decision was read out cries of “yes” were heard from the packed public gallery while Noble, 46, sat stone-faced in the dock.
Speaking after the verdict DCI Andy Taylor, who headed the investigation, said: “It was a particularly nasty attack and I am pleased we have secured a conviction.”
“Hopefully this will give some benefit to Jo’s family and friends. She was very popular and my thoughts go out to them,” DCI Taylor continued.
Noble savagely stabbed Mrs Cockell, a Reading Museum worker, in his Stanley Grove home on December last year as she tried to end their end relationship.
Through the trial Noble’s defence had tried to convince the jury he was so depressed he had an abnormality of mind and was not responsible for his actions.
The jury had heard three psychiatrists disagree about his mental state, although they were told by a GP his depression had improved before the attack and a doctor brought in to assess him when he was arrested declared him fit for questioning.
Ultimately, the jury rejected Noble’s claim and found him guilty of murder.
Mrs Justice Rafferty told Noble: “There is one only sentence for murder and that is imprisonment for life.” She ordered reports and postponed his sentence until later in the summer.
Violent end to a life hit by tragedy
PROSECUTOR Paul Reid summed up Jo Cockell’s life when he opened the case against Peter Noble, telling the jury: “Her life was frequently touched by tragedy.”
Just four months before her death the doting mother had been forced to come to terms with the loss of her son Xenon, who died of an asthma attack at just 29.
Heartbroken, she sought solace in the man she trusted most at the time, Peter Noble – and he repaid that affection by murdering her.
But Mrs Cockell would never have been put in that position had her life not been marred by tragedy twice before.
Her first husband, Xenon’s father, Bogdan Sidorowciz, who she divorced in 1978, died of a heart attack. Then tragedy struck again when her second husband, Adrian Cockell, died in a Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak at the Inland Revenue offices in Reading nearly 10 years ago.
The widow was left on her own to nurse Xenon, who was frequently rushed to hospital because of asthma attacks and once suffering a heart attack.
That was until she met Peter Noble at the Water Fest gala in 1998.
After an initial friendship their relationship grew until Noble moved in to her Salisbury Road home to help her get over her son’s death. Xenon had died in Noble’s arms. The couple shared an interest in spiritualism and would spend evenings talking and reading books by medium Doris Stokes.
However, on September 24 last year Mrs Cockell asked Noble to leave and told her line manager at the museum, Ivan Preston, she had a three-point plan to end the relationship. He said: “She told me she was going to let him down gently and do it over three stages and that she had
completed the first phase.
“She said she found him overbearing.”
She also spoke about ending the relationship to another colleague Frank Harding, who described Noble in court as a laid back gentleman.
Mr Harding said: “She said she was finding her relationship with him difficult. She felt that she didn’t want to get close to anyone at that time because everyone she got close to let her down or died.”
Noble stabbed her to death as she tried to complete her plan.
Friends said Noble had become jealous of her other friends and killed her just days after she returned from a weekend break in Paris with Carol Patient.
It was Mrs Patient who introduced the couple to each other. She was present at court throughout the trial.
Yesterday Mrs Patient paid tribute to her friend: “Two of Jo’s greatest qualities were her strength and courage. The deaths of her two husbands, her son Xenon’s asthma illness and heart attack were hard to bear and his death last August devastated her.”
“Jo was a kind and generous person and gave her time freely if she could be of some help to others.
“Above all Jo was a lady. She handled all the traumas in her life with dignity and courage. She is very much missed by her friends and family.”
‘Killer Noble enjoyed being centre stage’
MURDERER Peter Noble’s final act during his trial was to thank the jury for their efforts in reaching a unanimous verdict writes Anthony Moore.
The sword stuntman – accused of being an attention-seeker prone to theatrics by the prosecution – asked his defence barrister to make a special speech to the jury that had just branded him a cold blooded killer.
Robin Spencer, QC, said: “Whatever the jury’s verdict he thanks them and regrets they had to endure such a case.”
During his trial, psychiatrist Philip Joseph said Noble liked to be centre stage.
With the spotlight on him, the soft-spoken killer – born David Gordon but who took the stage name Peter Noble – told the jury he had contacted the other side and spirits had told him exactly when his victim would die.
However, Noble attacked Mrs Cockell two weeks before that date in a frenzied rage he could remember nothing about, except seeing a knife on the floor and hearing Jo Cockell last breaths.
The film buff said he wanted to
capture the spirits taking Mrs Cockell’s lifeforce to the other side but instead made a harrowing video he remembers nothing about.
With the camera zooming in on Mrs Cockell’s naked body he says: “This is Jo and I’m very, very sorry. Very sorry. She’s um, she’s gone, she’s with Xenon. I’ve committed a most heinous crime. But I think, I’m going to the great world. She’s happy. That’s all she wanted.”
Throughout the trial the silver haired defendant sat emotionless as his savage acts were dissected – his face did not change when the curtain finally fell and the jury returned with its verdict.