Triple killer sent to secure hospital until well enough for prison

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. - Credit: ESSEX POLICE

A mentally ill Colchester man who brutally killed three men, including two of his nephews, in a “frenzied” knife attack has been made the subject of an order which will require him to receive treatment in  a secure hospital until he is well enough to be moved to a prison.

Sentencing 35-year-old Tom Saunders to a life sentence Judge Martyn Levett described the killings as “sadistic and brutal”.

He said although Saunders had been suffering from a previously undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia, he had known what he was doing and had intended to kill the men.

He said Saunders would be detained in Rampton secure hospital or another hospital  as long as it was necessary and he would then be transferred to prison as part of a “hybrid“ order.

Judge Levett said the prospect of him being released for a very long period of time must be “very slim.”

He passed a notional minimum prison sentence of 18 years and eight months and said Saunders would have to serve that sentence before he could be considered for release by the parole board.

However, he said there was no guarantee Saunders would be released from that minimum term and he would only be released if the parole board considered it safe to do so.

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Saunders, of Bounstead Road, Colchester, admitted the  manslaughter of the three men by reason of diminished responsibility.

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

He denied murdering the men and these pleas were accepted by the prosecution..

Brothers Danny Gibson, 34, and Jason Gibson, 32, and their friend Richard Booth died in October 2019 after 35-year-old Tom Saunders stabbed and slashed them more than 60 times, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

The bodies of Danny Gibson and Jason Gibson were found inside their flat in Wellesley Road, Colchester, while Mr Booth, 35, was found dead in the driver’s seat of his car, which was parked in the communal car park situated behind the flat.

Karin Khalil QC, prosecuting, said the brothers’ flat showed signs of  repeated and brutal attacks on the two victims.

Mr Booth’s car was fitted with a “Dash cam” which was recording during the killing.

The footage wasn’t played in open court because of its extremely distressing nature, said Karia Khalil QC, prosecuting.

In the footage Mr Booth and Saunders could be heard greeting each other followed by a thud and the sound of Mr Booth groaning.

This was followed by more thudding sounds and Saunders could be heard swearing and saying: “How does that feel?”

Following the killings Saunders told a relative: “Don’t worry I made sure I finished them off: so they are definitely dead.”

Saunders admitted the manslaughter of the three men by reason of diminished responsibility.

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

He denied murdering the men and these pleas were accepted by the prosecution.

Mr Khalil QC said that prior to the killings Saunders’ mental health had deteriorated and he had become paranoid that people were “out to get him” or wanted to kill him

His mother described him as not eating or sleeping for the preceding three days and constantly playing the radio and listening to news items relating to Boris Johnson, Brexit and events relating to the Extinction Rebellion protests.

A few days before the killings he’d also said things like; “They are coming to kill us", "It's like the purge" and "we're all going to be murdered", said Mr Khalil.

A  month before the killing he’d attended a medical appointment but had refused to  see a psychiatrist and refused to be admitted to hospital. 

He also refused to consider the possibility of appropriate medication but had chosen to smoke cannabis instead, said Mr Khalil.

The court heard that during a post-mortem examination Mr Booth was found to have 21 stab wounds and cuts to the neck, chest, abdomen, arm and hand.

Danny Gibson suffered 30 stab wounds and cuts to the neck, chest and back and Jason Gibson had 15 stab wounds and cuts, some of which appeared to have been caused by a chopping motion, said Mr Khalil.

Jason Gibson’s fatal wound was inflicted to the left side of the neck and cut the spinal cord causing almost immediate paralysis.

On the day of the killings  Saunders had purchased some black clothing and two knives with 30cm long blades.

He later went out in the new black clothes and when he returned home he was covered in blood.

He had then gone out again and  when he came back he was  wearing only his underpants and trainers. 

He was bleeding heavily from cuts to his arms and hand  and said he wanted to die.

Due to the injuries that he had inflicted on himself  Saunders lost a lot of blood. 

He refused to go to hospital but whilst at home he lost consciousness and an ambulance was called.

Saunders later told a policeman: “I want to die, can you help me? Can you do euthanasia or help me to die?”

“It wasn’t said in an emotional voice, but in a calm matter of fact way,” said Mr Khalil.

In police interviews Saunders, who was described as having a “fixed stare”, said he’d been given a task by the government to reduce the population because of overcrowding and that he planned to cycle around at Halloween kidnapping people and taking them somewhere to torture them.

During Saunders’ three-day sentencing hearing the court has heard that he’d had an undiagnosed mental illness since 2013.