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Man 'hacked off his neighbour's head and put it in wheelie bin'

A “deeply religious” man hacked off the head of his next door neighbour and put it in a wheelie bin after he heard voices telling him to protect his toddler son, a court has heard.

Paranoid schizophrenic Eric Cruz, 32, launched the brutal assault because of his delusional belief that the neighbour was planning to kill his 17-month-old child.

The Philippines-born biology graduate thought he was on a “mission to protect children” and claimed saints would talk to him, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Another neighbour claimed he heard the repeated chanting of “voodoo, voodoo, voodoo” from the Cruz household in the hours leading up to the attack.

Patrick McGee, 63, was stabbed 17 times with severe force as he answered the door of his home in Crumpsall, Manchester, on the evening of 15 December last year.

Cruz then slashed at his neck and severed the head which he carried outside and placed in a bin in his neighbour's front garden.

Just 15 minutes later, warehouseman Cruz dialled 999 and calmly told the operator he had cut off the head of his neighbour.

The court was told Cruz misunderstood his neighbour's friendly nature as intrusiveness, which had “fed into his delusions”.

Sentencing him to an indefinite hospital order, Judge Michael Henshell said: “This is a tragic case.

“Patrick McGee had worked all his life. Everything I have heard about him gives me the impression he was a kind, gentle man. The perfect neighbour. He was welcoming to Eric Cruz and his family when they moved next door.

“Tragically, Eric Cruz suffered from a mental illness, apparently for some time. He heard voices. He had fixed and firm beliefs that voices were commanding him to do various things.

“He believed he had a mission to protect children and believed it was necessary for him to take the life of Patrick McGee to protect his own child.

“He was driven to that wicked and irrational act by the illness he suffers.

“The nature of that killing was so brutal that the effect on his family will last for the rest of their lives.

“For a kind and gentle man to have his life ended in this way is really unspeakable.”

Cruz, of Parkhill Avenue, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

His not guilty plea to murder was accepted by the Crown.

From The Belfast Telegraph