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Student detained for decapitating great-grandmother with an axe

28 Apr 2023 5 minute read
Newport Crown Court. Picture by John Grayson (CC BY-SA 2.0).

A university student has been detained indefinitely in a psychiatric hospital after killing and dismembering a great-grandmother in her home, a court heard.

Luke Deeley, 26, brutally attacked stranger June Fox-Roberts, 65, before decapitating her with an axe.

Newport Crown Court heard Deeley entered the mother-of-three’s home in St Annes Drive, Llantwit Fardre, near Pontypridd, on November 21 2021 through an unlocked door and killed her.

John Hipkin KC, prosecuting, said police were able to reconstruct what happened to the retired IT consultant through detailed forensic and pathology investigations.

“The defendant entered her home through an unlocked door. It is likely that June Fox-Roberts was disturbed and went downstairs encountering the defendant at the foot of the stairs,” he said.

“It was here the violence began. She was assaulted while upright in the hallway and further assaulted while on the floor.”

She had suffered blunt force injuries to the head, which included at least one blow to the forehead which rendered her unconscious, and there was evidence of being stamped on.

“There were fractures to her left forearm sustained in life, which represented defensive type injuries,” Mr Hipkin said.

“From the hallway the defendant dragged June Fox-Roberts into the dining room placing her on a tarpaulin.

“He then proceeded to decapitate and dismember her. He placed her head and limbs in separate bags.

“The defendant used an axe recovered at the scene to achieve this. He had also brought a chainsaw into the property from the outside shed.

“Although there were large areas of contact blood staining on the chainsaw, the forensic findings are that it was not used in the dismemberment process.”

Mrs Fox-Roberts’ body was discovered later by one of her daughters and a family friend who had become concerned they could not contact her.

After the killing, Deeley attempted to clean up the hallway and also shaved and tried to colour his hair.

Medication

The court heard Deeley had previously been admitted to a psychiatric hospital and had for periods stopped taking his prescribed medication.

In September 2021, he enrolled at the University of South Wales and moved into shared student accommodation in the Roath area of Cardiff.

His housemates quickly found his behaviour “challenging” and after one incident on November 11 he was asked to move out – leaving all his belongings behind.

“Upon a subsequent search of that room by the police, a quantity of artwork drawn by the defendant – demonic in nature – was recovered,” Mr Hipkin said.

Deeley, of no fixed abode, was sleeping rough and in the days before the killing police tracked his movements via CCTV around the Llantwit Fardre area. He was arrested two days later and charged with murder.

Mr Hipkin explained Deeley had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and due to the nature of his illness the Crown had accepted his plea to the manslaughter of Mrs Fox-Roberts by reason of diminished responsibility.

David Elias KC, defending, said: “No words can properly describe what Luke Deeley did to June Fox-Roberts or the anguish he has caused to her family and friends.”

Mr Justice Griffiths imposed a hospital order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act and a restriction order under Section 41 – meaning Deeley can be detained indefinitely.

Higher power

Passing sentence, he said: “The impact of her death and the manner of her dying on her family and friends has been demonstrated in the statements read to the court.

“At 1.45am on Sunday November 21 you were in her street. You discarded your cap and shoes in a garden.

“You appeared to have found an axe and you noticed the full moon. You claim to have found and put on a wolf facemask, although this has not been found.

“You thought a higher power was telling you to kill someone. You found June Fox-Roberts’ front door unlocked and went inside.

“You inflicted blunt force injuries to her head and one of these knocked her out.

“When she was on the floor you appeared to trample on her and dragged her body into the dining room and put her on tarpaulin and then cut her head off and limbs with the axe you brought in from the garden and put them into bags that were later found in the house.”

The judge went on: “You only did this terrible thing because of your mental illness. You have no previous convictions and there’s no evidence you had any rational motive for what you did.

“You thought you were receiving messages from what you described as a higher power and were acting out commands.

“You also had the delusional belief there was a group of individuals out to get you.”

In a statement issued afterwards, Mrs Fox-Roberts’ family said their “world imploded” with her death.

“June was a mother, grandmother and great grandmother and loved spending time with her extended family,” the said.

“And she was generous, if anyone had a problem, she would do anything in her power to help – which makes it so much harder to accept Luke could be so cruel to her for no reason.”


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Cathy Jones
Cathy Jones
9 months ago

Meanwhile in Goggledd Cymru, Betsi Cadwaladr is in the news again because its about to be prosecuted for its failing towards a patient with a psychiatric problem…

….If you don’t fund proper health services tragedies WILL continue, some of them will be uncomprehensible atrocities like this, others will be suicides and people living in misery for decades….

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