Ex-soldier who stabbed wife several times in ‘brutal attack’ sentenced
- Credit: Archant
A former soldier who stabbed his wife to death in a brutal attack in their Felixstowe home will be detained in a psychiatric hospital until he is well enough to be transferred to a prison.
Sentencing 64-year-old Shaun Ryan, Judge David Goodin described the attack on Jean Ryan as “savage” – and said her last few minutes of life must have been “terrifying” as she fled from her husband and tried to shut herself in her bedroom.
Judge Goodin made Ryan the subject of a hybrid order which means he will be detained in hospital under section 45a of the Mental Health Act for as long as considered necessary.
The judge also imposed a 12-year prison sentence with an extended licence period of five years on Ryan.
Judge Goodin said that when it was no longer necessary for Ryan to be detained in hospital – and if his prison sentence hadn’t expired – he would then be transferred to a prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.
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Ipswich Crown Court heard police officers went to the couple’s home in Gosford Way, Felixstowe at around 11.31pm on April 13, 2016, after receiving a 999 call from 67-year-old Mrs Ryan who was screaming and shouting “no”.
Ryan was in the hallway bleeding from cuts to his hands and the officers then found Mrs Ryan’s body on the bedroom floor with a knife in her back.
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She had 14 stab wounds to her head, chest, abdomen, arms and legs and blunt force injuries to her head and face.
There was no sign of a pulse, and when the officer told his colleague “It’s a murder,” Ryan had tried to get past the other officer and had thrown punches as they tried to restrain him.
Ryan said: “She deserved it, lying bitch”, adding: “I want the jewellery back. She won’t need it in the afterlife.”
“She won’t be bothering me again,” he said.
Ryan had denied murdering his wife but later admitted a lesser charge of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.
The court heard that since the 1970s Ryan had suffered a number of head injuries, which had left him with epilepsy.
Psychiatrist Professor Philip Joseph, who was called by the prosecution, said although Ryan had brain damage with associated epilepsy he wasn’t suffering from a mental illness which made it appropriate for him to be detained in hospital.
He claimed Ryan was prone to aggression which wasn’t associated with any treatable mental disorder.
However defence expert Professor Keith Rix said prison wouldn’t be appropriate for Ryan as his epilepsy and associated problems caused by brain damage required skilled nursing management.
Steven Dyble for Ryan said his client had killed his wife while following an epileptic seizure, and his responsibility for the killing was substantially impaired.
He said Ryan’s brain injury wasn’t going to improve and the odds of him ever being released from a hospital order were remote.
‘My sister’s killer was a very violent man’ – Victim’s brother
Following the sentencing hearing Jean Ryan’s brother John Hogan described his sister’s killer as a “very violent man”.
Mr Hogan and his wife Barbara, who live in Essex, spoke of their sadness at not seeing Jean for 20 years before her death following a family argument.
He said that despite their estrangement, Jean had written to him at Christmas not long before her death but hadn’t mentioned any problems she was having with Ryan, who couldn’t work because of his epilepsy.
“We just wish she’d told us what was going on in her life and perhaps we could have helped,” he said.
Mr Hogan, who also has a brother called Frank in Australia, described his sister as “a bright girl” and said she had a number of good jobs, including head of accounts at a business in Felixstowe at the time of her death.
He said that before her marriage to Shaun Ryan, Jean, who didn’t have any children, had been married to a US serviceman and had moved to America before returning to the UK six months later when the relationship ended.