`Voices' in doctor's head told him to kill daughter

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The Independent Online
A GP who bludgeoned his daughter to death with a hammer and then stabbed her after hearing voices in his head telling him to "kill" was yesterday ordered to be detained indefinitely at a psychiatric hospital.

Patrick Alesworth, 48, attacked his daughter Sara, 22, at the family home in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, last April. The local GP, who suffered from a long history of mental illness, killed the family dog and fled to France with false registration plates on his car, Reading Crown Court heard. He admitted a charge of manslaughter.

Brian Barker QC, for the prosecution, told how MsAlesworth was last seen alive by the GP's youngest daughter, Kathleen.

"She was in bed and the family dog was sleeping in the same room. The defendant's wife had left for work," he said.

"The defendant has told a psychiatrist that his first thoughts when waking were that he had resolved to kill himself and his family. He has said he had a voice in his head telling him to kill.

"He got up, collected a hammer and kitchen knife, and went upstairs where he met Sara on the landing.

"He attacked her with the hammer before stabbing her with the knife. The defendant has said that he then killed the dog in the same manner, before he dressed and washed the weapons and replaced them where they had come from."

Alesworth then sat at home jotting notes before phoning in sick to the medical agency for which he was working.

He later phoned his wife, Jane, and then booby-trapped the house with timing devices. Mr Barker said: "He severed gas pipes and set timing devices to a number of electrical appliances, designed, it seems, to catch fire and, presumably, cause a gas explosion.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Sara, a student at Bournemouth University, had been struck 14 times with the club hammer.

The court heard that at lunchtime the doctor bought false number plates in Aylesbury and later returned home to fit them to his car. Another of his daughters, Kathleen, returned to the family home and found a note on the front door in her father's handwriting, saying there had been a gas leak.

Shortly afterwards a neighbour alerted Mrs Alesworth who came home and confronted her husband in the drive. After a struggle in the drive, Mrs Alesworth went inside the house. "She ran upstairs to find Sara's body face down in the bedroom with a dog at the base of the bed."

The doctor then swapped his own car for his wife's and drove to Portsmouth, from where he caught a boat to France. Alesworth was eventually arrested in the village of Pleubally on 14 April, after he had tried to hijack a French motorist's car. Mr Barker said: "He was found in a layby, apparently worse for wear from drink and drugs."

Drugs and a syringe were found in the car with him and he was later to say he was going to use them to kill himself, Mr Barker added.

Alan Mainds, for the defence, described the killing of Sara as "a Greek tragedy". He added: "Patrick Alesworth was the psychiatrist who could not cure himself from the illness of the mind which gnawed its way through his confidence and, in the end, through his reason, which caused him to commit this dreadful act."

After the case, Alesworth's solicitor, Murray Holmes, said that the defendant's wife was standing by him.

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