Murder trial hears about defendant’s traumatic past

Hampshire police close off Southsea sea front after the body is found on the beach
Hampshire police close off Southsea sea front after the body is found on the beach
Cheltenham Road. Picture: Google Maps

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A JURY has heard how a man accused of killing his friend and mutilating his body has learning difficulties and was suffering from depression, resulting in a trance-like state.

Dr John Sandford, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, interviewed David Hilder in prison in November.

Hilder, 47, of Richmond Road, Southsea, stands charged with the murder of David Guy, last July. Hilder said he could not remember if he had killed him.

Dr Sandford gave evidence at Hilder’s trial at Winchester Crown Court.

The court heard how Hilder had a traumatic upbringing and had been brought up by his father, after his alcoholic mother left when he was seven years old.

His father died when Hilder was 17. Social workers had recorded that he had a low IQ – in line with having a learning disability, according to Dr Sandford.

The death of Hilder’s wife in 2002 from cancer, after a 10 year relationship, led to him suffering from depression and experiencing times which he could not remember.

He also said that he had experienced depression and had slipped into a trance-like state, with memory-loss, following the death of his friend, Michael Bates, in 2012.

Dr Sandford described this state as ‘amnesia dissociative fugue’, which is usually triggered by a traumatic event. This could explain why Hilder has no memory of killing his friend, dismembering the body or disposing of it.

When asked by William Mousley QC, defending, if Hilder could possibly have had diminished responsibility because of a recognised medical condition, Dr Sandford said: ‘Yes, he did. It was a learning disability.’

He added: ‘One of the puzzling issues of this case is the way the body was disposed of. We see someone who seems to have disposed of the body reasonably well and then cleared up after them but then after that he seems to fall into a fugue state and falls apart.’

The court also heard that because of Hilder’s learning disability, he has a tendency to ‘confabulate’ – fill in the gaps – when questioned about something which he cannot remember.

Dr Sandford said that Hilder’s mental state, learning disability and motivation was something for the jury to consider. (Proceeding)