Killer who stabbed neighbour stares at victim’s family

A man who stabbed his neighbour to death with a machete stared at the victim's family after admitting the killing.

Ian Holden, 38, attacked Mark Roberts, 52, at a block of flats in Rakersfield Road, New Brighton, on January 1 this year.

Mr Roberts was treated by paramedics at 10.25pm and taken to Arrowe Park Hospital, where he died a short time later.

Police said a Home Office post-mortem examination found Mr Roberts died from a single stab wound to the chest.

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Holden, who lived in the flat below the victim, denied murder and was set to stand trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

However, before the trial began today he asked to be rearraigned and admitted the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Holden, with long curly grey hair, stared at members of Mr Roberts' family, who were sitting in the public gallery.

He was flanked by four members of staff from the Scott Clinic – a medium secure psychiatric unit in Rainhill.

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Michael Brady, QC, prosecuting, said the manslaughter plea was acceptable to the Crown Prosecution Service.

He said: "The Crown is willing to accept that plea, it being tendered as a result of the defendant's diminished responsibility."

Judge Neil Flewitt, QC, asked Mr Brady to provide an outline of why this decision had been taken.

Police at Rakersfield Road in New Brighton

Mr Brady said: "Notwithstanding the fact there was some animosity between the defendant Mr Holden and the deceased Mr Roberts, that has to be seen against the longstanding mental health problems that Mr Holden has suffered from, for a period of years.

"The defendant was examined in some detail by a psychiatrist, Dr [Fouad] Basa on behalf of the defence, who gave a very full and considered report.

"That has been considered by the Crown and in particular by a psychiatrist instructed by the Crown, Dr [Irfan] Rafiq, who has provided a much shorter report.

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"The reason for the brevity of that report is because he agrees with the assessment and conclusions that Dr Basa has come to.

"Dr Basa is in fact Mr Holden's treating clinician, so is probably best placed to make a judgement about his mental health."

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Judge Flewitt said official guidance said additional weight should be given to a treating clinician's point of view.

Mr Brady said: "Because of the findings, the Crown feel that it is appropriate to accept this plea on this basis and that should there be a trial, it's inevitable that the jury would find the defendant acted in the way he did due to his mental health problems."

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The prosecutor added that he understood the family of Mr Roberts may be "disappointed", but said: "As I understand it, they accept the reasoning behind the Crown's decision to accept the plea that it has."

Judge Flewitt said that having read the reports, he too understood and agreed with the decision.

Richard Pratt, QC, defending, said his client had pleaded guilty on the same basis he advanced to the doctor.

He said: "I make it abundantly clear that by his plea, the defendant inherently accepts there is no defence of lawful self-defence available to him."

Ian Holden, 38, of Rakersfield Road, New Brighton

The judge said he would have to hear evidence from Dr Basa and consider whether Holden should be made subject to a form of hospital order, or sent to prison.

He said: "I want the psychiatrist also please to consider the issue of dangerousness because he may need to consider, well I will have to consider, whether some form of extended sentence or even life sentence is appropriate."

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Mr Pratt said both doctors had found difficulty in assessing the impact of any personality disorder, without Holden receiving further treatment.

He conceded his client also had previous convictions, involving weapons.

Judge Flewitt remanded Holden in custody until his sentencing on October 23.

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