Bristol man carried out ‘frenzied attack’ on parents after lack of help from health experts

By Ben Mitchell, PA & Emma Grimshaw

A Bristol man who carried out a “frenzied attack” on his parents and his elderly grandmother in their sleep using knives, scissors, a cricket bat and dumbbells has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Jonathan Keal was convicted at trial of the attempted murders of Robert and Lynda Keal, as well as of 90-year-old Marjorie Blacker – who has since died – at their home near Fordingbridge in the New Forest, Hampshire, on the night of September 26, 2018.

Detaining Keal under a hospital order, judge Mr Justice Garnham at Winchester Crown Court said he had read “profoundly moving” victim statements from the defendant’s family.

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He told him: “Your parents demonstrate their continued love for you despite the injuries you caused to them.

"You carried out these terrible attacks prompted by your delusions, but you carried them out nonetheless knowing they were wrong.

“There is a profound need to protect the public from you.”

Keal’s trial heard that his mental health deteriorated after he came off his medication and struggled to get help from mental health services.

Keely Harvey, defending, told the court: “It’s the withdrawal of those drugs and the lack of help from the relevant authorities that led him to be where he was and in the state he was in.”

She added that Keal was applying to appeal against the conviction.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Ragini Heeramun said Keal suffered from “high-level schizophrenia” which could take years to treat.

She said he believed “demons” were sending him messages through books, television and other people such as “You are a chicken” and “You are not strong enough”.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, told the trial that Keal had been staying with his parents after they became concerned about a deterioration in his mental health.

She said the defendant, who had a history of mental illness and drug abuse, had then been taken to hospital on September 25 after he had cut his wrists and ankles after stopping his prescribed medication.

It was after he returned home from hospital that he attacked his father, who 64 at the time, his 65-year-old mother, and his grandmother, who suffered from dementia, the court heard.

Ms Maylin said Mr Keal woke up to find his son stabbing him and thumping him while saying: “I’m sorry, Dad, I’m sorry, Dad”.

Keal then attacked his father again with a cricket bat and another knife, in the porch area of the house.

Ms Maylin said Mr Keal said to his son: “You are going to kill me, Jonathan. Stop it. What are you doing? Why are you doing it?”, to which the defendant replied: “I know I am. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

The prosecutor said Mrs Keal was attacked while she was asleep in bed and then pursued into the en suite bathroom where she was stabbed in the chest and neck with a pair of scissors.

Ms Maylin said Mrs Keal called 999 and said: “He’s gone mad, he’s killing us all. I hurt all over,” before adding: “I can’t move, I’m playing dead.”

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