Wealthy antiques dealer admits murdering seven-year-old daughter

Nick Reilly
Contributor
Robert Peters killed his daughter at their West London home

A wealthy antiques dealer has admitted murdering his seven-year-old daughter, changing his plea on the third day of his trial.

Robert Peters, 56, throttled daughter Sophia with a dressing gown cord while alone with her at their £1 million family home in Wimbledon, south west London, last November.

After the horrific act, Peters called 999 to report what he had done and Sophia was rushed to hospital where she died the following day.

The killing came only a month after Peters, who suffered mental health issues, was  found not to be a risk by a child protection team.

Peters had previously admitted manslaughter and changed his plea to murder on the third day of his trial at the Old Bailey.

Mr Justice Edis adjourned sentencing until Monday to set a minimum life term.

The trial had previously heard how Peters had  ended a two-and-a-half-year affair with a married woman and was worrying about his finances.

Sophia Peters was fatally strangled with a dressing gown cord

He waited until his wife had left the home and woke Sophia up in bed by tying a cord around around her neck and throttling her for up to half an hour.

When she asked what he was doing, Peters said ‘sorry’, before continuing the brutal act.

When police arrived at his home, Peters told them: ‘She’s upstairs. I’ve strangled her’

Sophia was found in a foetal position on a single bed, with the dressing gown cord wrapped and knotted tightly around her neck.

She was rushed to hospital, soon after joined by her mother Krittiya, who was escorted there by police.

Sophia was treated in intensive care but died from brain injuries the next day, on November 4 last year.

In the months before the killing, Peters had searched the internet for ‘serial killers’, ‘treatment of child killers in prison’ and ‘premeditated murder’.

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He chose to kill her before she was scheduled to return to her  £5,000-a-term boarding school after the half-term break.

Detective Inspector Helen Rance, of Scotland Yard, said: ‘Sophia was an innocent seven-year-old girl, much loved by her mother, brother and friends. She was tragically murdered by the hands of her own father in the most frightening way.

‘Sophia had her whole life ahead of her, which was taken away so cruelly in an act of pure selfishness. Robert Peters has shown no remorse for the murder, and initially maintained a defence of diminished responsibility. However, due to the strong evidence against him, he has changed his plea to guilty.

‘This was a particularly traumatic case to deal with for all concerned, and I hope that this conviction brings a degree of closure to Sophia’s family.’