Triple killer had untreated mental illness for six years, court told

Wellesley Road is currently cordoned off Picture: SOPHIE BARNETT

A police cordon in Wellesley Road, Colchester, after the stabbings - Credit: Archant

A paranoid Colchester man who stabbed three men to death had an untreated mental illness for six years before the killings, a court has heard.

Consultant psychiatrist Gurtreep Kaler told Ipswich Crown Court that when he first saw 35-year-old Tom Saunders after the 2019 killings, Saunders didn’t believe he was mentally ill and hadn’t consented to treatment.

“He had no insight into his mental illness and didn’t believe that any of his thought processes and his behaviour were due to a mental disorder,” said Dr Kaler, who was called by the defence to give evidence.

“He has been mentally unwell since 2013 and hasn’t received any help from the mental health services in the community.”

He said that to his knowledge Saunders hadn’t realised he was mentally ill before the killings.

Saunders, of Bounstead Road, Colchester, has admitted the manslaughter of the three men by reason of diminished responsibility and having a knife in a public place.

The court has heard that brothers Danny Gibson, 34, and Jason Gibson, 32, who Saunders was related to, and their friend Richard Booth died in October 2019 after Saunders stabbed and slashed them more than 60 times.

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

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The bodies of the brothers 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  behind their flat.

Mr Booth’s car was fitted with a dashcam which was recording during the killing but was not played to the court because of its distressing nature.

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

Karin Khalil QC, prosecuting, 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

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.

During his evidence Dr Kaler said that as a result of the treatment regime at Rampton secure hospital where Saunders was being treated, his insight into his mental illness had changed and he had started to trust people around him.

He said Saunders use of cannabis may have exacerbated his untreated psychotic illness which had started developing in 2013.

He said Saunders would never be cured of his mental illness and would need to be on medication for the rest of his life because of the length of time it went undiagnosed.

Dr Kaler said if Saunders didn’t take his medication there would be a quick and significant deterioration in his condition.

He added Saunders was severely depressed and was on suicide watch because of his attitude towards what he had done.

Saunders hadn’t discussed the killings in detail and said he didn’t recall what happened but he didn’t know if this was due to an absence of memory or a refusal to remember, he said.

Dr Kaler said Saunders had been moved to Rampton from Belmarsh prison where he was taken after the killings because he was acutely mentally unwell and his fear was that if he was returned to prison his mental state would deteriorate.

“The reason he has maintained some stability in his mental health is because of his medication and the robust multi-disciplinary team input which would not be available in a prison setting.

He said he was also concerned about the availability of substances such as cannabis and Spice in prison and the effect it would have on Saunders if he took them. 

Consultant psychiatrist Richard Pool, who was called to give evidence by the prosecution, said he was concerned that any deterioration in Saunders’ mental health wouldn’t be picked up in prison.

Saunders’ sentencing hearing continues on Wednesday.