Accident 'made man kill his father'

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The Independent Online
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A JUDGE was yesterday asked to award damages to a man whose severe mental breakdown drove him to kill his father with a pick-axe handle.

John Walker, 46, who admitted manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, blames his illness and its consequences on a boating accident in 1987 on the Grand Union Canal near Croxley Green, Hertfordshire, in which his cabin cruiser capsized in the wash from a powerful speedboat.

Mr Walker, of Pembridge Road, Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, is suing the speedboat's part-owner, George Dixon, and a passenger on the cruiser, Stuart MacAndrew, who jumped on to the speedboat as it drew alongside and allegedly grabbed the throttle.

Mr Walker had a previous history of depressive illness and the accident caused a relapse. Twelve days after the accident, in a psychotic state, he killed his father, Stanley, 82, for no reason.

In January 1988, Mr Walker was put on probation on condition he received hospital treatment. He was released five months later, but remained unable to work, his counsel, Michael Brent QC, said. Mr Walker is claiming more than 300,000 damages for mental injury and loss.

The defendants agree the accident caused Mr Walker's relapse, but claim he would have suffered further depressive episodes in any event, and they dispute who was to blame for the incident.

The hearing continues.