Schizophrenic man beheaded friend

A PARANOID schizophrenic who was caught in Suffolk after he decapitated his friend and calmly put the body in the boot of his car had a history of violence and had spent time in a secure mental unit, a court heard yesterday.

A PARANOID schizophrenic who was caught in Suffolk after he decapitated his friend and calmly put the body in the boot of his car had a history of violence and had spent time in a secure mental unit, a court heard yesterday.

Garnet Hooper had suffered from the illness for many years and in the run up to the killing had stopped taking some of his medication - raising questions about the standard of care in the decade after he was released from the unit where he had been placed after starving and attacking his father.

The 54-year-old of Station Road, Attlebridge, denied murdering Graham Rayner on May 24 but pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Officials at the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority will now decide whether to conduct an independent inquiry into the standards of his care.


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In a statement issued after the case the family of Mr Rayner said: “We will never forgive Garnet Hooper for what he did but accept they were the actions of a very ill man.

“The mis-management of Hooper's care was a significant factor in the circumstances leading up to dad's death.

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“We are keen that questions are asked of the mental health services procedure and of the individuals concerned with his welfare. Lessons are to be learned to stop families going through what we are.”

A background of violence was revealed in court - Hooper was sentenced to be detained indefinitely in a secure mental unit in 1991 after starving his father and being convicted of wounding his father with intent to cause grievous bodily harm before being released in 1996.

Prosecutor Graham Parkins said that Hooper and Mr Rayner shared an interest in vintage motorcycles with another friend Albert Miller.

On the day of his death Mr Rayner had seen Mr Miller before visiting Hooper's to use his inspection pit.

When Mr Miller followed half an hour later he saw Graham Rayner's severed head lying near a chopping block in the garage with blood everywhere.

He told police Hooper had told him: “He got on my nerves. I had to do it. I killed him. It was a messy job.”

Mr Miller added: “It was so unreal to me when Garner did not show any of the emotions you would have expected.”

Mr Miller drove off not knowing what to do but when he saw Hooper leaving in his car he phoned police on his mobile.

Police intercepted Hooper's green Austin Montego and pulled him over on the car park of the Red Lodge transport café near Barton Mills.

When they saw what was in the boot Hooper was arrested. He was later found unfit for interview and detained under the mental health act.

About two months before the killing Hooper told Rayner he had stopped taking some of his medication as he did not like the affect it had on him. Mr Miller told police he had noticed a change coming over Hooper after this.

A post mortem examination on Mr Rayner found he had defence injuries to his hands and injuries on his skull made by some blunt object which would have rendered him unconscious.

He had “significant head injuries prior to his death.”

A sharp tool had been used to decapitate him and this apparently happened while still alive. Consultant psychiatrist Simon Ward told the court Hooper had been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia for 20 years and irrespective of the court proceedings would need hospital treatment for the indefinite future.

Judge Peter Jacobs made hospital order which will detain Hooper indefinitely in a secure psychiatric unit.

He added that Hooper had earlier been released from secure units including Rampton and that “his illness had resurfaced” giving him “uncontrolled urges.”

Judge Jacobs mentioned there had now been almost 100 cases of the public suffering violence from mental patients who had been released into the community. He added: “He cannot ever be released as there is no guarantee he would take the anti-psychotic drugs he requires.”

Mr Rayner, aged 64, who lived alone in a bungalow in Sandy Lane, Taverham was described by the friend Albert Miller as “a happy go lucky man who was always laughing and joking.”

Detective chief inspector Neil Firm, who led the investigation, read a statement from Mr Rayner's ex-wife and children after they heard the sentence, saying they were satisfied with the result.

Earlier the family had described Mr Rayner saying: “He had a passion or life and was always smiling and cheerful.

“He had a strong love for vintage motorbikes and tractors. He will sadly missed by all his family and friends.”

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