Saturday, February 23, 2013

Canary Islands: Assailant in Brutal Murder of British Retiree, 60, in Tenerife To Be Sentenced Up to 20 Years in Psychiatric Facility

According to http://www.edp24.co.uk, on February 22, a Spanish jury found Deyan Valentinov Deyanov, 29, criminally responsible for brutally stabbing Jennifer Mills-Westley, 60, in a supermarket on May 13, 2011, in Tenerife. Mrs. Mills-Westley retired in Tenerrife from Norfolk (UK) years earlier.

After stabbing her numerous times about the neck, Deyanov then decapitated her and ran into the street carrying her head. 

During the four-day trial the court heard how Deyanov was diagnosed with acute paranoid schizophrenia and heard voices in his head commanding him "to kill, to fight, to pray." He also admitted to being a regular user of crack cocaine and LSD. The defendant told the court the voices had directed him that he was "an angel of Jesus of Christ" and was sent "to create a new Jerusalem." 

A psychiatric assessment concluded that he had been suffering an "acute episode" at the time of the attack and that his mental illness was likely exacerbated by alcohol and drug use.

During the trial the jury had been shown hard-to-watch CCTV footage from inside the shop during the time of the frenzied attack on Mrs. Mills-Westley, a grandmother of five.

Despite how traumatizing the testimony was for Mrs. Mills-Westley's children and family, they realized some closure, knowing that the homeless Deyanov will be sentenced to 15 to 20 in a psychiatric unit when the terms of his sentence are firmed up in coming weeks.

Deyanov was convicted of a jury of nine at the Provincial Court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

COMMENT: As so many acts of violence committed by the mentally ill demonstrate all so well, all nations vitally need to formulate detailed plans and protocols as to how our societies will protect the innocent and law-abiding amongst us from those individuals who are severely mentally ill and prone to violence against others.

Following the verdict, Mills-Westley's family members called for “lessons to be learned from the tragic event to ensure no other family has to go through the same ordeal."

Strangely, the morning that Deyanov walked into a shop and asked for a long-edged knife because "he was going to kill someone," laws should have been in place to prevent such a sale. Nevertheless, a knife 22 centimeters in length (8.66 inches) was sold to the man who said he was going to kill someone.

When shoppers later saw Deyanov carrying Mrs. Mill-Westley's head from a supermarket, he was promptly wrestled to the ground and detained until police arrived.

The really sad part in this entire case is that Deyanov had been diagnosed and treated in psychiatric facilities in both the UK, Spain and elsewhere for years, yet his potential for violence was seriously overlooked. Specifically, he had been arrested for acts of violence in Tenerife at least on four occasions going back to 2011. A warrant for his arrest had been issued just three days before the killing, but officers were unable to locate him.

The jury found that Deyanov was guilty of murder because he took his victim by surprise and she could not defend herself. Even though he was suffering from schizophrenia and his responsibility was diminished, according to Spanish law, he was found guilty of murder.

Clearly, mental health professionals in many countries continue to fail the very people they are entrusted to help. As a global community, we must do better in this regard.