‘It haunts me,’ says fa­ther who stabbed bur­glar to death

Home­owner speaks out on bat­tle with anx­i­ety and post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der after 2011 or­deal

The Sunday Telegraph - - Bat­tle Against Crime - By Rosa Sil­ver­man and Jen­nifer Rigby

A FA­THER who killed a bur­glar has told how he is still haunted by flash­backs ev­ery day, al­most seven years after the in­ci­dent.

Vin­cent Cooke, 46, stabbed an in­truder to death in his home near Stock­port, Gtr Manch­ester, in 2011.

He still has ther­apy for post­trau­matic stress dis­or­der and anx­i­ety.

Mr Cooke warned that the or­deal for Richard Os­born-Brooks, who was re­leased with­out charge this week after killing a ca­reer crim­i­nal in his home in south Lon­don, is far from over.

“The psy­cho­log­i­cal im­pact has been some­thing I wouldn’t wish on my worst en­emy,” he said.

Mr Cooke was home alone in Bramhall when two in­trud­ers burst through his front door and held a knife to his throat, or­der­ing him to hand over his valu­ables.

He stabbed one of the in­trud­ers, 37-year-old ca­reer crim­i­nal Ray­mond Ja­cob, after the man at­tacked him.

“All I knew then was that I was in a fight for my life,” Mr Cooke said.

“I had waited for some op­por­tu­nity to es­cape but none had pre­sented it­self. So this was it. I had no choice but to fight for my fam­ily and for my­self.”

Ja­cob later died of his in­juries while his ac­com­plice, Michael Thorpe, 34, fled the scene and was ul­ti­mately given a jail term for his crimes.

Like Mr Os­born-Brooks, 78, Mr Cooke was ar­rested on his doorstep that night and taken to the cells.

“It was hor­ri­fy­ing, a whole new world to me,” said Mr Cooke. “I’d never been in trou­ble with the law be­fore and there I was, cow­er­ing be­hind bars, pray­ing it was all just a dread­ful dream.”

He was re­leased on bail the next day, but un­like Mr Os­born-Brooks – who was re­leased with­out any ac­tion on Fri­day, just days after the ini­tial in­ci­dent – Mr Cooke had to wait four weeks be­fore po­lice con­firmed he would not be charged with mur­der.

He says the night­mares, anx­i­ety and suf­fer­ing are on­go­ing.

“I’m still hav­ing ther­apy,” he said. “I’m a dif­fer­ent per­son ... less trust­ing, more fear­ful, more with­drawn.”

The fam­ily couldn’t even re­turn to their home at first be­cause news crews were camped out­side and there were fears of re­venge at­tacks.

It took Mr Cooke six months to get back to work, and his busi­ness did not re­cover un­til 2014.

His wife and son, who re­turned dur­ing the at­tack but fled when Mr Cooke shouted at them to run, have also suf­fered. His wife en­dured de­pres­sion and his son missed a lot of school.

“[I’m] still afraid that there might be some­one out there who is after me,” said Mr Cooke. He hopes Mr Os­bornBrooks, whose wife has de­men­tia, is not af­fected in the same way.

“To any­one who has to go through such a thing, I’d say: get pro­fes­sional sup­port, keep your fam­ily and friends close by, and don’t be ashamed of your ac­tions. I fought for my life that day and it haunts me on a daily ba­sis,” he said.

“I sus­pect I will carry the pain, the guilt, the suf­fer­ing and the fear with me un­til I die.”

‘I was in a fight for my life. I will carry the pain, the guilt and the fear with me un­til I die’

Vin­cent Cooke was at­tacked in his own home by ca­reer crim­i­nal Ray­mond Ja­cob, in­set, in 2011. Top: Mr Cooke’s Bramhall home

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