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Paranoid schizophrenic slashed partner’s throat

crowncourtA PARANOID schizophrenic slashed his partner’s throat to save her from a fate worse than death, a judge at Swansea Crown Court heard on Friday (Oct 31). James Blair Hamilton developed a “tremendous fear” that demons were about to break into their house and to kill him and Patricia Anne Durrant “in a particularly unpleasant way.” Hamilton cut her throat from ear to ear before trying to take his own life.

Today, Hamilton, aged 60, denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The pleas were accepted by the prosecution and Hamilton was detained under the Mental Health Act without limit of time. Huw Rees, prosecuting, told Swansea crown court how Hamilton and Miss Durrant, aged 65, lived together at several locations in Wales before settling down in a house in High Street, Llandysul. In 2002 he had received treatment for a mental illness, and responded well. But he had stopped taking medication and had lost contact with the mental health services.

Late on March 2 this year neighbours noticed at a window Miss Durrant, a seamstress, working at her sewing machine making a red dress. It appeared, said Mr Rees, she was killed very shortly afterwards. The following morning Hamilton dialled 999 and Pc Rhys James arrived to find him sitting on the stairs covered in blood. He went into the kitchen to find “a scene like something out of a horror film.” Miss Durrant was already dead, having suffered “catastrophic” injuries to her neck. She had also suffered at least eight defence wounds across her arms as she had tried to protect herself.

Hamilton later told police he had approached Miss Durrant from behind as she sat on a chair in the kitchen and cut her throat. He said he believed demons were about to go on a killing spree. After the killing he stabbed himself in the neck and stomach, and lay down next to Miss Durrant. He thought he was going to die but he awoke a short time later. He said he spent the rest of the night “wandering about wondering what to do” before dialling 999. Mr Rees said although Hamilton did not have any previous convictions for violence police discovered a conversation between the couple had been video taped.

In it, Miss Durrant accused Hamilton of breaking her arm while he blamed her for the injury because she struggled too hard to get out of his grip. Mr Rees said Miss Durrant had been unhappy living in Llandysul and had wanted to move to Pembrokeshire. Dr Roger Thomas, a psychiatrist, told the court he had “absolutely no doubt” that Hamilton suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, but since his arrest and subsequent treatment he had shown significant recovery. Hamilton’s barrister, Geraint Walters, said the killing of Miss Durrant had been “a tragedy that noone saw coming.”

Judge Keith Thomas said Hamilton was the only person who could say what had happened that night. He said Hamilton had thought of leaving the property to escape the demons but that would have “left her unprotected and the entities would have got her and a fate worse than death.” Hamilton, who sat in the dock surrounded by four mental health workers as well as dock officers, was told he would be detained at the Caswell Clinic, near Bridgend, until the Secretary of State for Justice deemed it was safe to release him.

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Dayne Stone

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