A man has been jailed for life, with a minimum of 24 years, having pleaded guilty to the murder of his seven-year-old daughter.
Robert Peters, 56 (26.01.62) of Blenheim Park, Raynes Park, SW20, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Monday, 30 April.
Detective Inspector Helen Rance, from the Homicide and Major Crime Command, who led the investigation, said: “The death of a child is something no family should have to go through, but the fact that Sophia Peters died at the hands of her own father makes it truly dreadful. Sophia was a loving and much loved child whose loss has devastated all who knew her from her family through to her school friends and teachers. I hope that the conclusion of the judicial process will be of some comfort to all those so terribly affected by her death.
“This was a traumatic case to deal with. From the police officers and London Ambulance staff who initially responded to the 999 call, to the detectives who investigated it through to court. The first officers on scene were faced with the nightmare of a child who had been strangled. Those officers did all they could to save Sophia, in the most difficult of circumstances. It has had a significant impact on so many people, and is a case that none of us will ever forget.
“We may never truly understand why Robert Peters carried out this vile crime. He planned the attack weeks in advance and was just waiting for an opportunity to strike. He was calculating and deliberate and, when Sophia was alone and vulnerable with someone who should have protected her, he coldly and cruelly took her life. He initially tried to evade his full guilt by claiming diminished responsibility; but his conviction and life sentence for murder is fully justified by the overwhelming facts. Our thoughts remain with Sophia’s friends and family as they now try to move forward with their lives.”
Sophia’s mother, Krittiya Peters, said: “I am absolutely devastated by Sophia’s death. I am finding it hard to come to terms with her death and the circumstances in which she died.
“I feel betrayed and angry at my husband, who was supposed to look after and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our family at all costs.
“My priority now is to remain positive. Peace and tranquillity is what we need. It is going to be very hard for us. We know that most people will appreciate this and we thank our friends and family for their constant support in this traumatic time. We hope that others will understand that peace is important for us.
“Press interest has been stressful. I would like to be left in peace, along with my family, to deal with the loss of beautiful Sophia.”
The court had previously heard how on the morning of 3 November 2017, Peters had been left at home in charge of his daughter, Sophia.
He later told police he had been planning to kill her for weeks and had gone to her room and strangled her.
Other family members had left early, and he told officers he believed this would be his last chance to kill her for some time. After he thought she was dead, he called police.
At 08:01hrs a police operator received a 999 phone call that stated “there’s a murder” and the male caller went on to say a child had been murdered.
When the caller was asked, “who’s killed them?” the caller replied, “I have.”
Officers arrived five minutes later and found the front door of the house open. When they entered they were met by Peters who said: “She’s upstairs, I’ve strangled her.”
An officer found Sophia in her bedroom and she found a black fleece dressing-gown belt had been tied around her neck. The officer worked to loosen the ligature and began CPR.
The London Ambulance Service had been called and they also tried to revive Sophia before taking her to St George’s hospital.
Sophia was placed in intensive care, but died on 4 November 2017.
A post-mortem examination later gave a cause of death as hypoxic-ischaemic brain damage due to being in cardiac arrest as a result of ligature compression of the neck
Peters was arrested at the scene.
He was charged on 4 November 2017 with the attempted murder of Sophia and kept in custody to appear at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court the same day.
Peters was subsequently remanded in custody to appear at the Old Bailey and on 10 November 2017, at that court, he was formally charged with Sophia’s murder.