Colchester triple murder accused deemed fit to stand trial
- Credit: PA
A 34-year-old man accused of triple murder in Colchester has been deemed fit to stand trial following psychiatric tests.
Tom Saunders appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for a pre-trial review hearing on Friday morning.
Judge Martyn Levett said the court had received a psychiatric report declaring Saunders fit to stand trial.
Saunders, of Bounstead Road, Colchester, was charged with three counts of murder following the deaths of brothers Danny Gibson, 35, and 31-year-old Jason Gibson, both from Colchester, and 35-year-old Richard Booth.
He is also charged with possession of an offensive weapon, namely a knife, in a public place on the same date.
Essex Police were called to an address in Wellesley Road, Colchester at 10.15pm Saturday, October 5, 2019, over concerns for the welfare of two men following reports of an altercation.
Officers found the bodies of brothers Danny and Jason Gibson inside the property, while Mr Booth's body was found in a car in Hospital Road.
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Post mortem examinations established that the three men died from multiple stab wounds.
Saunders first appeared at court on October 8, 2019, before magistrates in Colchester.
More than two years later, on Friday, he appeared in custody before Ipswich Crown Court, on video link from a high-security psychiatric hospital, and speaking only to confirm his identity.
Defence barrister Tracy Ayling QC said Saunders' diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia had "never been disputed" and that he was "still very unwell".
She asked the court to postpone arraignment until the service of further psychiatric reports from doctors instructed by the prosecution and defence.
"Until the prosecution psychiatrist and defence psychiatrist get together, we will not know how long an issue the psychiatric evidence will be," she told the court.
Judge Martyn Levett set a provisional date for trial to commence on either Tuesday, January 4, or Tuesday, January 11, depending on whether the case is heard before the crown court or the high court.
The next hearing will take place over two hours at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday, December 16.
Saunders, who has still yet to be formally arraigned, will again be expected to appear via video link from Rampton Secure Hospital.