Dartmoor woman in cliff plunge suffered depression

A YOUNG mother believed to have killed her two children suffered badly with depression following a difficult relationship with her boys’ father, neighbours have claimed.

Police began investigating after the bodies of Katherine Hooper, 24, and her five-year-old son Joshua Patterson were found at the bottom of a 100ft cliff in Dartmoor National Park on Friday.

Officers later discovered the body of Hooper’s two-year-old son, Samuel Patterson, after searching her home in Paignton, Devon.

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Detectives said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident – but confirmed all three had been known to various welfare agencies and a Serious Case Review would also be launched.

Hooper’s estranged partner, Neil Patterson, 52, said he had been left devastated by the tragedy.

Her next-door neighbour, Johnathan Grant, 28, reportedly said that the two had a fractious relationship – which culminated in a court case following an “almighty bust-up”.

In April, Patterson appeared before magistrates where he pleaded not guilty to assault by beating.

Grant was reported as saying: “One night in May they got into a huge argument where there was an almighty bust-up. Since then she has suffered badly with depression.

“The boys were lovely and played with my girls. Kat had lived there for three years. It is sick, utterly sick what has happened.”

Last May, police launched a major search and rescue operation after Hooper suddenly disappeared with her two children. Hooper was later found reportedly covered in mud and suffering from dehydration.

She was then taken to hospital while her two sons were taken into care. Two weeks ago, Hooper and her two sons moved back into their home in Dukes Close.

Then just before midday on Friday, foreign tourists reported seeing a woman standing on top of a granite outcrop in Haytor with a child on her back or shoulders and suggested she may have jumped.

Both Hooper and her son were found lying at the bottom of the rock face, where they died at 11.50am.

The deaths prompted police to carry out a search of their home and, upon forcing open the property’s front door, they found Samuel dead in his bed.

Detective Superintendent Paul Burgan said: “We are keeping an open mind about all three deaths, but at this stage we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.”