DCSIMG

Man stabbed 38 times at his Portsmouth home

VICTIM Keith Bevis

VICTIM Keith Bevis

 

A PARANOID schizophrenic unlawfully killed a man by stabbing him 38 times at his Portsmouth flat – then rang and told his dad, a court heard.

Marc Wells, 40, whose condition is resistant to medication, set upon Keith Bevis, 31, with a butterfly knife at his then home in Seagrove Road.

Mr Wells then called his father Raymond from the first-floor flat and said: ‘I’ve done it this time.’

Mr Wells had been charged with murdering Mr Bevis, of Fawcett Road, Southsea.

However Judge Keith Cutler CBE ordered that a jury should not find him guilty or not guilty of a criminal offence after Mr Wells was ruled unfit to plead at an earlier hearing.

Instead the jury was directed to establish whether Mr Wells ‘did the act’ of killing Mr Bevis during a trial of the facts of the case.

The 12-strong jury took just 10 minutes to find that he did the act.

Mr Wells, who is detained in psychiatric unit, did not appear in court due to his condition.

Winchester Crown Court heard Mr Wells had met a girlfriend of Keith Bevis while she was a patient at a psychiatric hospital.

It is thought the pair had split up before or during her hospital stay but had got back together when she had been discharged.

The woman had then moved into a room in Mr Wells’ flat shortly before Mr Bevis was killed. They were not romantically involved.

The court heard the woman had wanted her relationship with Mr Bevis to end.

However Mr Bevis had visited her at the flat and stayed there occasionally in the week before he was killed.

Mr Bevis was spotted on CCTV footage walking along Kingston Road in Portsmouth shortly before 4.40pm on the day of his death.

The court heard it takes about seven minutes from where he was seen to walk to Seagrove Road.

A short while later, at about 4.45pm on May 11 last year, Marc Wells called his dad on his mobile phone.

He said: ‘I’ve done it this time, I’ve actually stabbed someone 26 times and he’s dead on the floor in front of me and dead or dying.

‘I want you to come down.’

Prosecutor Timothy Mousley QC said: ‘His father didn’t know whether to believe what he was saying or not, but he advised his son Marc that if that was the case he should immediately call the police and that was the end of the conversation.

‘And so it was that at 4.55pm that afternoon a 999 call was made by Marc Wells.

‘He told the operator in that 999 call ‘I have a dead person in my front room. He’s taken about 20 or 30 stabs in his neck, chest and back.’

When asked what had happened, Mr Wells told the operator – and was later to tell police on their arrival at the scene shortly after 5pm – he had acted in self-defence.

Officers found Keith Bevis lying curled up on the floor in the flat with his back to the doorway and his head under a coffee table.

Three stab wounds to his back were immediately obvious.

A police officer and a paramedic tried to resuscitate Mr Bevis, but he was pronounced dead at 5.08pm.

A post mortem examination later revealed his death had been caused by stab wounds to the neck and chest.

X-rays revealed a metal fragment embedded in the right side of Mr Bevis’ skull – consistent with the missing tip of the butterfly knife.

He was four times the drink-drive limit and had traces of class B drug cannabis in his system.

The butterfly knife was found nearby and Mr Wells was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The court heard Mr Wells told police he was sorry Mr Bevis was dead.

Mr Mousley said: ‘He said that he, Marc Wells, was a schizophrenic whose condition was not well controlled and he was having in his words a very bad spell.

He claimed that he had not previously been violent as a result of his schizophrenia.’

Mr Wells was taken to hospital but later discharged and taken to Waterlooville police station.

A psychiatrist reported that he has treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia with substance abuse.

He had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression, personality disorder and drug-induced psychosis. The psychiatrist recommended that he should be returned to hospital for treatment.

Mr Wells is still undergoing treatment in a secure unit.

A hearing is to be held at Winchester Crown Court later during which evidence will be heard from a medical expert. Judge Cutler will then rule whether to make an order for Mr Wells to be detained in a psychiatric hospital indefinitely.

However if Mr Wells was to ever recover sufficiently to be ruled fit to plead and stand trial he could be tried for Mr Bevis’ murder.

DEFENDANTS WHO ARE UNFIT TO PLEAD HAVE ‘TRIAL OF FACTS’

· What happens if a defendant is ruled unfit to plead or stand trial?

The amended Criminal Procedure (Insanity) Act 1964 provides for a ‘trial of the facts’ in section 4A.

· What does this mean?

A jury will determine whether the accused ‘did the act’ or ‘made the omission’ that was to be or is being tried, or is charged against him. This is determined on evidence given in the trial, if any has already been given. Alternatively it is determined on evidence cited by the prosecution of a person appointed by the court to put the case for the defence.

· What happens next?

If the jury is satisfied it can make a finding that the defendant did the act or omission.

If it is not, the jury will return the verdict of acquittal.

· How can the defendant be dealt with?

There are several options. A judge could decide to take no action or order that the defendant is put under supervision and treated.

Alternatively an order could be made for the defendant to be detained in hospital under section 37 of the Mental Health Act.

However a restricted hospital order could be made under section 41 of the Mental Health Act, which would mean the Secretary of State would have to approve the defendants’ release from hospital, 
as opposed to being the decision of medical experts via the route under section 37.

· What happens if a defendant is later judged to be fit to plead and stand trial?

If a defendant later becomes well and is judged fit to plead and stand trial, he or she could be tried in a court with a jury of the criminal offence or offences they have been charged with.

ATTACKER HAS A HISTORY OF MENTAL ILLNESS

MARC Wells has a lengthy history of mental illness stretching back almost 24 years.

Mr Wells’ dad Raymond told Winchester Crown Court that his son was a ‘revolving door patient’.

But the 40-year-old’s father said relatives had done their best to support him and visited him regularly.

He said during evidence: ‘I do not believe Marc would have survived as long as he has without visits every week.’

Marc Wells had been an inpatient as recently as April last year.

Since being charged with murder in May last year he has been transferred back to a psychiatric hospital where he continues to receive treatment.

Three medical experts gave evidence regarding Mr Wells’ mental capacity during an earlier hearing at Winchester Crown Court.

Judge Guy Boney QC then ruled that he was unfit to plead or stand trial charged with murder.

Jury members were told during a later trial of the facts of the case that it was not for them to convict Mr Wells, 40, of a criminal offence due to his illness.

Timothy Mousley, prosecuting, said: ‘Because of that ongoing illness he is unfit to stand his trial and your role, as My Lord [Judge Keith Cutler CBE] has already indicated to you, is somewhat unusual compared to what other juries do most of the time because you are required to decide whether or not he committed the unlawful act alleged against him, that is to say the stabbing to death of Keith Bevis.

‘Unlike a jury sworn to try a case and to reach verdicts in a traditional murder trial, you do not in this case have to consider the state of mind of Mr Wells.

‘You are not required to consider his assertion that he was acting in self-defence, so the question of self-defence, although it was raised by him when he reported this to the police, is not a factor for you in the course of this trial.’

 
 
 

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