Court accepts manslaughter pleas for Colchester deaths

From L-R: Richard Booth and brothers Danny Gibson and Jason Gibson who were all killed in Colchester

From L-R: Richard Booth and brothers Danny Gibson and Jason Gibson who were all killed in Colchester. Picture: ESSEX POLICE - Credit: ESSEX POLICE

A 34-year-old man accused of killing three men in Colchester will not face a trial for murder after his pleas to manslaughter were accepted by the prosecution.

Before Ipswich Crown Court on Monday (January 17) via a video link was Tom Saunders, of Bounstead Road, Colchester.

He was due to stand trial later this month for three offences 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 in October 2019.

However, at a hearing on January 7, Saunders denied murdering the three men but admitted their manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

He also admitted having an offensive weapon, namely a knife, in a public place.

The case was adjourned to allow the prosecution to consider the manslaughter pleas and on Monday ( January 17) Mr Khalil confirmed that the pleas were acceptable and there would be no need for a trial on the murder charges.

Saunders, who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and paranoid delusional belief at the time of the killings, will now be sentenced at a three day hearing, the date of which will be decided on Thursday this week.

At the sentencing hearing, psychiatrists for the prosecution and the defence will give evidence about Saunders’ mental state and his barrister Tracy Ayling QC said she might call members of his family to give details of his history of mental illness.

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Essex Police was 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.

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 and since then he has been seen by a number of psychiatrists while being held at Rampton Secure Hospital.

During a previous hearing at the end of October last year, Saunders was deemed fit to stand trial by psychiatrists.