A man has been sentenced to life imprisonment after he admitted bludgeoning his elderly neighbour to death three days before the funeral of the victim’s wife.

Sable Thomas, 43, of Dalmeny Road, N7, was sentenced to serve a minimum of eight years in jail before he can apply for parole at Wood Green Crown Court on Friday, 8 April. He pleaded guilty at the same court on 26 November 2021 to manslaughter the manslaughter of Anthony Rooks, 80, by virtue of diminished responsibility.

The court heard that Anthony’s wife of 46 years sadly died on 14 April 2020 after battling ill health for almost a year. Her funeral was due to take place on 7 May 2020, but Anthony did not get the chance to go because on 4 May 2020 he was brutally killed by his neighbour and friend Thomas.

Anthony suffered multiple blunt force traumas to his head and face. He was beaten so ferociously by Thomas that part of his ear was bludgeoned away.

In a victim impact statement, the Anthony’s granddaughter said: “Little did we know that three days before our nan’s funeral, this horrific tragedy would rock our world and change our lives forever. Our biggest question is why anyone would want to hurt such a loving funny giving and caring old man, especially to that extent?

“As a result of grandad’s death, we are living in a constant nightmare thinking about the house in which we shared so much happy memories. Grandad’s home was our safe place to go to. There is a feeling that our entire childhood memories and lives have been ruined.

“We see things like this in the movies and have never envisage it could happen to us. We have experienced the harsh reality of evil that exists and that anybody, even a friend, is capable of absolutely anything.

“He had so much more to give in his life. His plans to go back to his native homeland of Trinidad was not realised. We did not get to say goodbye, it feels like we are already serving a life sentence as there is nothing that will bring him back or ease the pain of his loss. To say our hearts have been broken would be an understatement. There will always be a hole in our hearts, but we are hoping for some closure so we can try to live somewhat of a normal life.”

The court heard that Anthony’s daughter was asleep in the living room of their first floor flat and her father and Thomas were in Thomas’ flat below in the kitchen. She heard raised voices, banging and then silence and so she went to investigate, which is when she found her father injured outside the front door. She asked Thomas what happened, but he refused to answer.

Officers promptly arrived after receiving the 999 call and they went to speak to Thomas, who behaved unusually and laughed manically when spoken to. Officers then noticed blood spots on the walls and bed and a bloody bucket and mop, which Thomas had used to clean up the scene.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder. While in custody, he asked officers ‘is this how you normally treat murderers?’ He later asked the arresting officer ‘can I ask who I murdered.’

He stated that he suffered from mental health issues and that he had been previously supplied medication but had stopped taking it as it did not agree with him.

He was charged on 6 May 2020 and was convicted as above.

Detective Sergeant Brian Jones, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “This is an absolutely heart-breaking case where a much-loved grandad was killed in the most brutal way by his friend and neighbour who was suffering from a mental health issue.

“Anthony being killed in such a traumatic way was absolutely devastating for his family, who were already grieving for Anthony’s wife – their mother and grandmother. They suddenly found themselves having to plan for not one, but two funerals, during the midst of a pandemic. Thomas also robbed Anthony of his chance to say a proper goodbye to his much-loved wife of 46 years.

“I would like to commend Anthony’s family for the bravery and dignity they have shown throughout the investigation and court process. I do hope that Thomas’ sentencing gives them the closure that they want and deserve.”