Mentally Ill Killer Cannot Inherit Victim’s Estate

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A mentally ill killer who slaughtered his partner, as well as their six-year-old son, with a bread knife has failed to convince the High Court that he should be permitted to inherit the money and assets his victim left to him in her will.

The man admitted double manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility and was detained in a medium-security mental hospital. He had repeatedly knifed his partner and son without provocation. He had previously undergone psychiatric treatment after experiencing feelings of paranoia and hearing voices.

His lawyers argued that the usual embargo on killers obtaining any financial benefit from their crimes should be waived in his case on the basis that his ‘abnormality of mind’ was such that he had very little understanding of what he was doing.

The Court acknowledged that the man’s culpability for the killings was ‘reduced and even perhaps significantly reduced’ by his mental disorder. However, in dismissing his application, the Court noted that the facts of the case were ‘graphic and in the highest degree distressing’ for the victims’ relatives.

Although his relationship with his partner had been apparently loving and stable, the sheer number of his victims’ knife wounds – he had struck again and again to ensure they were dead – had to be taken into account. His culpability was not ‘eliminated’ or reduced to such a low point that the normal rule should not apply.

Under his partner’s will, the man had stood to inherit her half of their semi-detached home as well as an insurance payout and pension benefits. Her total estate was valued at almost £80,000 net of tax. However, the Court’s decision means that her estate will be inherited by her surviving relatives.