Mentally ill man 'stabbed police officer' after chase

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A paranoid schizophrenic who stabbed to death a detective had not been taking his medication for "months or even years" prior to the killing, a court has heard.

A paranoid schizophrenic who stabbed to death a detective had not been taking his medication for "months or even years" prior to the killing, a court has heard.

Glaister Earl Butler - who denies murder but has admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility - was being cared for in the community when he stabbed Detective Constable Michael Swindells, Birmingham Crown Court was told.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Timothy Raggatt QC told the jury yesterday that they would have to decide whether or not Butler's "underlying" mental illness had produced an abnormality of mind which had driven him to kill.

The court heard that DC Swindells died on Friday 21 May last year after Butler, 49, plunged a knife into his heart on a canal towpath beneath Birmingham's "Spaghetti Junction".

Mr Raggatt told the jury: "Michael Swindells died in the execution of his duty - he was stabbed to death in the course of pursuing someone who he was trying properly and lawfully to arrest and that was the accused.

"He was stabbed in the heart with a single deep thrust of a knife. He died from that wound despite every effort by colleagues who were with him to give him first aid."

Butler, of Long Acre, Nechells, Birmingham, is alleged to have used a knife to threaten a carpenter outside his maisonette in the hours before the fatal incident. Mr Raggatt told the jurors: "Those other events are the reason he was being pursued by the detective and others.

"The central question in this case will revolve around what his state of mind was at the time he killed him. The defence are likely to suggest that you should not convict this defendant of murder."

But, Mr Raggatt continued: "The fact that someone has a mental illness, even quite a severe one, does not, of itself, give rise to the defence [of diminished responsibility]."

Butler had suffered with the condition intermittently for between 15 and 20 years and had been treated in hospital, sometimes against his will, on more than one occasion.

Mr Raggatt said: "The last of these periods ended in October 2001 when he was allowed to return to the community under what was designed and intended to be careful and thorough medical supervision."

Butler had been deemed "safe" to live in the community, Mr Raggatt disclosed, adding: "Certainly in October 2001 that was the perception of those who had charge of this man's health and welfare."

The court was told that, although Butler had been prescribed medication to stabilise his condition, the team in charge of his care could not "stand over him while he took his medicine".

Claiming Butler had become very adept at tricking his carers into believing he was taking the medication, Mr Raggatt noted: "This man, although with an underlying mental illness, was able to convince those who had charge of him that he was indeed doing as he should when he plainly was not."

After the stabbing incident, Butler ran off and had to eventually be stopped by officers who had trained their guns on him.

The trial continues.