Stephen Booth chatted to a 999 operator about his family, how he’d worked as a builder and about his dogs.
He made a cup of tea while speaking to the call handler.
But Booth wasn’t reporting being the victim of a burglary or a break-in.
Moments earlier, he’d admitted murdering his wife of 35 years; the mother of his two children.
Booth, a builder, had lay in wait at the home of 62-year-old Susan, before embarking on the cold blooded killing after she got home from work.
Get our free M.E.N. Court newsletter
Manchester’s courts are some of the busiest in the country with a vast array of cases heard every week.
To keep up to date with how justice is being served across Greater Manchester subscribe to our free weekly M.E.N. Court News newsletter put together by our court reporters Andrew Bardsley and Amy Walker.
How do I sign up?
- First just click on this link to our newsletter sign-up centre.
- Once you’re there, put your email address where it says at the top, then tick the MEN Court News box. There are other newsletters available if you want them as well.
- When you’ve made your choice, hit Save Changes button at the bottom.
Armed with an axe, he hit her 19 times on her driveway.
Booth, 64, plotted to kill her, in anger at the sale of their former marital home.
“Hello there, my name is Stephen Booth,” he said after ringing 999, minutes after the killing.
“I’d just like to confess to a murder in Shaw.
“It’s my wife I’ve just killed. I’m at my home address if you’d like to come over and arrest me or whatever you do.”
It was the first of two chilling 999 calls Booth made after murdering Susan, a beloved mother and grandmother – and popular healthcare assistant at the Royal Oldham Hospital.
In the first, Booth had told police ‘there’s been a murder’ on Hillside Avenue in Shaw.
“You’ll need the police please,” he said.
Officers raced to the scene and found Susan barely conscious, at about 9pm on May 4.
She was wearing her work uniform, and her NHS ID card.
Susan died about an hour later, in the hospital where she was loved and highly regarded.
Booth had refused to say more about the killing to the 999 operator, telling them ‘we can do that in interview’.
What emerged was a picture of a jealous ex, whose resentment ended with him committing a horrific, senseless crime.
Divorce proceedings had been ongoing between the two, but had not been finalised.
It was the proposed sale of their marital home that sent Booth into a murderous rage.
Booth built the family home they had shared in Audenshaw, Tameside.
A sale had been agreed for £452,000.
Susan told him she wanted half, which Booth didn’t feel she deserved.
He would later tell police: “I’ve built it, literally, the roofing, bricklaying and everything, windows.
“And she shot off with half of it to buy somewhere herself without me.”
Hours before the murder, Booth had been walking his dog when he was called by a solicitor at 11am, who told him the sale of the house was to be completed in three days’ time.
He had asked for another week.
It was when he got home that Booth began to plot the killing.
Less than a week earlier, he had told a solicitor he would not be leaving the property and said he would be ‘ready for them’.
A few days later his son visited Booth, who then appeared to be packing up his belongings.
Booth and his wife had not spoken for two years, after they separated.
He was ‘devastated’ when she left him.
Sign up to the free MEN email newsletter
Get the latest updates from across Greater Manchester direct to your inbox with the free MEN newsletter
You can sign up very simply by following the instructions here
Susan moved to Hillside Avenue in Shaw, Oldham, while Booth remained at the family home at Churchfields, Audenshaw.
The couple had married in 1986, and had two children together and three grandchildren – and another on the way.
Susan also had two children from a previous relationship.
That family has now selfishly been torn apart by a brutal, premeditated murder.
Susan had been hopeful that the house sale was progressing, after hearing her husband had agreed to leave.
She seemed in high spirits and was chatting to friends at work about it, before driving home after finishing her shift.
Booth had rang a taxi firm at 1pm earlier that day and booked a car for 7pm to take him into Shaw, knowing Susan would be home at around 8.30pm.
He spent the rest of the afternoon mowing the lawn and watching TV.
Susan made the short trip home from the hospital.
Little did she know, she was about to be ambushed.
Booth had waited at the rear of the property, armed with an axe.
She pulled up in her car and crossed the road, walking onto her driveway.
Without warning, Booth pounced from behind and started attacking her with the axe.
A pathologist later found she’d been hit 19 times to the head.
Her injuries suggested Susan had tried to protect herself, but she succumbed to the brutality of the attack.
Booth continued attacking her even as she lay prone on the ground.
It was at 8.49pm when he made the first 999 call.
Booth then booked a taxi home to Audenshaw.
He later said he had waited in Shaw for 10 minutes, but went home after no police officers arrived.
Back home, he was still speaking to an operator in the second of two 999 calls when armed police came to arrest him.
Booth had told them his full address and confessed.
“I feel terrible… er terrible about what I’ve done, afterwards. I do, I feel awful about it,” he said.
The next day, he made another confession to interviewing officers, revealing how he’d plotted the killing.
“If I went to prison it wouldn’t be any more painful than what pain I’m going through now,” he said.
No matter the pain Booth may be experiencing, the terror of what he subjected his wife to that night is unimaginable.
His actions have left a family without a mother and a grandmother.
Tributes to Susan told of her generosity and kind nature.
“Susan was a very quiet person, she had a wicked sense of humour, she was generous to a fault,” a friend said.
“She would give you her last penny, she didn’t have a penny to her name but would always buy birthday and Christmas presents for us all. There was no malice in her at all.”
Her family said she was the ‘epitome of caring’, and that nothing was too much trouble for her.
Karen Coverley, director of nursing at The Royal Oldham Hospital, told of Susan’s ‘compassionate’ nature and how she was loved by patients and her colleagues.
All of that was lost, the day her estranged husband selfishly took her life, in horrendous circumstances.
Now Booth is starting a life sentence after pleading guilty to murder. He will serve a minimum of 22-and-a-half years behind bars after being sentenced at Manchester Crown Court.