Assessment sought of prostitute murder accused Stephen Griffiths' mental state

By Alistair Keely,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 06:06

Lawyers representing a man accused of murdering three prostitutes are to consult experts regarding his "mental state", a court heard today.

Stephen Griffiths, 40, appeared at Bradford Crown Court via videolink where lawyers fixed a timetable for future hearings and set a provisional trial date of November 16.

His barrister, Ian Howard, said his legal team was actively seeking a consultation with experts from the top-security Rampton Hospital, in Nottinghamshire, to assess his client's "mental state".

During a 29-minute hearing, Griffiths, who referred to himself as the "Crossbow Cannibal" at a previous appearance, spoke only to confirm his name and sat through the majority of the proceedings with his arms folded, leaning on a desk at Wakefield Prison with his head bowed.

Relatives of his three alleged victims looked on from the jury box.

Griffiths, a criminology student, from Holmfield Court, Thornton Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, is accused of murdering Suzanne Blamires, Shelley Armitage and Susan Rushworth.

The former public schoolboy, who attended the private Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield in his teens, is charged with murdering the three women, who all disappeared in Bradford.

Griffiths was dressed in a grey sweatshirt and grey tracksuit trousers and closed his eyes at one point during the proceedings.

Judge James Goss QC set a review hearing for July 16 which will take place at Sheffield Crown Court via videolink before Mr Justice Openshaw.

He also set a provisional trial date for November 16 at Bradford Crown Court.

Towards the end of the hearing, Judge Goss reminded the Press and members of the public of their responsibilities under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 to avoid prejudicing the proceedings and made particular reference to people publishing information relating to the case on the internet.

When he was asked for his name during his first appearance at Bradford Magistrates' Court on May 28, Griffiths replied: "The Crossbow Cannibal."

Asked for his address, he answered: "Erm... here, I guess."

Griffiths is charged with murdering Ms Blamires, 36, between May 20 and May 25; murdering Ms Rushworth, 43, between June 22 2009 and May 25 this year; and murdering Ms Armitage, 31, between April 25 and May 25 this year.

Ms Blamires was last seen on May 21, Ms Armitage has been missing since April 26, and Ms Rushworth disappeared on June 22 last year.

Body parts belonging to Ms Blamires were found in the River Aire in Shipley on May 25, and tests confirmed that a small piece of human tissue later found in the water belonged to Ms Armitage.

A team of more than 130 police staff, including 60 murder squad detectives and 70 specialist search officers, are continuing to search the river and Griffiths' flat, where he lived for around 13 years.

Griffiths, a psychology graduate undertaking postgraduate research in criminology at Bradford University, was arrested on May 24 at the flat on the edge of Bradford's red-light district.

He was remanded in custody.