Joe Walker admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility was ordered to be detained in a secure mental hospital after stabbing his own father multiple times
Image: Lancashire Police)
A son who had suffered a severe mental breakdown due to lockdown restrictions stabbed his father to death.
Joe Walker knifed 65-year old dad Thomas multiple times after becoming ‘obsessed’ with Covid following posts he had read on Facebook and other social media.
In the run up to the killing, the 33-year-old’s parents had gone to police warning them about their son’s behaviour after violent arguments triggered by his him having to stay at home on furlough.
But following another row about the restrictions, Walker, a cleaner, stabbed his father around the head and body in what a pathologist later described as ”a sustained and forceful multi-mode assault”.
He also stamped on his father’s head as he lay dying.
Police who attended the house Walker shared with his father in Nelson, Lancashire found him ”in an agitated and distressed state”.
He told them ”my dad is dead’ and officers found Mr Walker snr dead in the living room.
Inquiries revealed Walker used bleach in a bid to clean blood from the house and even tried to stage the crime scene by turning his father’s body face-up and placing a knife in the hand of the victim to make it appear he was the attacker.
At Preston Crown Court, Walker who admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility was ordered to be detained in a secure mental hospital.
His not guilty plea to murder was accepted by the prosecution.
The court heard Mr Walker snr was a ”quiet man with a huge, caring heart, who loved his son unconditionally”.
But Walker’s mental health deteriorated and he had become increasingly paranoid after he routinely smoked cannabis and took cocaine to deal with the effects of the lockdown restrictions.
In the weeks before the fatal attack Mr Walker snr had sought advice on how to deal with his son’s deteriorating behaviour and had also told work colleagues at work that he was concerned about his son.
Walker was sectioned but was discharged from Royal Blackburn Hospital just a week later and returning to live with his father.
The killing occurred the following month with Janet getting a phone call from her son on May 22 saying his father was dead.
Police found Mr Walker snr lying on his back in the sitting room surrounded by a pool of blood.
Both arms were across his body and a knife had been placed in his hand.
Walker’s blood was found in several rooms of the house, including in upstairs bedrooms.
Detectives said it was clear the victim had been dead for ”some time” and there was also a strong smell of bleach in the property.
Judge Simon Medland QC ruled that if Walker was ever ruled well enough for release from the hospital setting then he would then have to start a life prison sentence because of the danger he poses to the public.
He would then have to serve a minimum of 12 years of that life sentence before he is eligible to go before the Parole Board.
The judge said: ”Some of the injuries sustained were consistent with Tom Walker defending himself and he would have, in those moments, known that his own son was killing him.
“This is a tragedy. Tom Walker’s family has been left devastated knowing this was no stranger but his own son who ended his life.”
He told Walker: ”You were psychotic and it is known that cannabis and cocaine can have detrimental effects on a person’s mental wellbeing.
“You subjected yourself to mental upset by continuing to take these substances, and it was to a significant degree your own fault that you suffered psychosis, and I say your attack on your father was linked to your drug taking.
“You may have an underlying susceptibility to mental health disorders but your drug-taking exacerbated it and you descended into homicidal psychosis. And it is my view you pose a seriously high risk to the public.”
After the hearing Det Ch Insp Lee Wilson, of Lancashire Police said: “This is a truly tragic case which has seen a man lose his life and a family torn apart.
“My thoughts continue to remain with them and I thank them for their determined support and fortitude throughout the proceedings.
“Joe Walker is clearly not a well man and I hope he now gets the treatment he so clearly needs. However, I am pleased that the public have been afforded the protection of a life sentence if he is ever deemed well enough to be released from the hospital setting.”
In a statement Mr Walker snr’s family said: ”Thomas was a quiet gentle soul without a bad bone in his body. He was passionate about Burnley Football Club and will always be a Claret.
”He enjoyed playing darts, walking his dog and listening to his favourite band, Status Quo.
“Thomas didn’t deserve what happened and we, his family, are absolutely devastated that he has been snatched away from us in this way.”