Millionaire and “inspirational” charity worker Sue Addis, 69, who owned popular restaurant – Donatello’s and Pinocchio’s – was allegedly attacked by grandson Pietro, 17, while laying in the bath of her £1million cottage in Withdean, Brighton
A millionaire restaurateur was allegedly stabbed to death by her own grandson after he became hooked on cannabis, a court has heard.
Sue Addis, 69, the owner of popular Brighton restaurants – Donatello’s and Pinocchio’s – was allegedly attacked by grandson Pietro, 17, as she lay in the bath at her £1million home.
He allegedly stabbed her at least 17 times causing fatal injuries to her chest and neck. He then left her to die in the bath, a jury was told.
Afterwards he allegedly called 999 and said: “I’m calling to hand myself in. There’s been a murder.”
Today Pietro Addis, now 19, went on trial charged with the murder of his grandmother during the third pandemic lockdown on January 7 last year.
Addis has admitted manslaughter but denied a charge of murder.
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He wept in the dock as Lewes Crown Court heard details of the killing last year.
The jury heard the teenager had been living with his father, Leo, and his stepmother during lockdown in Brighton.
A student at a catering college in Brighton, he had ambitions to become a chef and worked at the family restaurant.
But in the months leading up to his gran’s death he had become a habitual cannabis user regularly smoking a couple of joints every day, the court heard.
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His behavior started to deteriorate and he began to skip college and often failed to turn up for work at the family restaurant, the court heard.
The teenager also allegedly started selling items of clothing so he had the money to be able to buy cannabis.
It was decided the teenager would go and live with his grandmother at her £1million cottage in Withdean, Brighton.
Mrs Addis was a hugely respected figure in the Brighton business community and first opened Donatello’s and Pinocchio’s restaurants in the 1980s.
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Her three sons Leo, Stefano and Mikele all worked at the restaurants which were among the most popular in the seaside resort and attracted celebrities like actor Bill Nighy, Katie Price and Premiership footballers.
Addis moved in with his grandmother but he continued to regularly smoke cannabis joints, mainly in her garden, the court heard.
His grandmother had told friends, Sue Eastman and Denise Taylor, she was increasingly concerned about his cannabis use, the court heard.
She also wrote to Dr Daphne Keen, the psychologist who diagnosed his ADHD in 2018, that her grandson was continually smoking ‘weed’, which she said when combined with his drugs had made him listless and slow.
She told her: “He is suffering paranoia and we are all getting annoyed with him rather than helping. He still says he can’t do anything without the Elvanse [his ADHD drug] but with the weed as well he has become impossible to reason with.
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“He just wants to sit in his room all day and it is an effort to get him to do anything.”
As well as using cannabis, Addis was also taking Xanex, an anti-depressant, the court heard.
Friend George Cameron noticed a huge change in the teenager in the months leading up to the killing.
He told police his friend had become “negative and despondent” and had also become quite paranoid.
In the days leading up to his gran’s death, Addis had allegedly been acting very strangely – banging on her bedroom door at night telling her he loved her.
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Rossano Scamardella QC, prosecuting, said that on the day of her death Mrs Addis returned from working at Donatello’s around 4pm and began searching online for treatment for her grandson.
He said: “She was researching ‘the Priory, Ticehurst’, which is a private clinic/hospital for addiction and mental health treatment.
“She also searched ‘Brighton to Ticehurst by car’ – presumably to see how far away it was. Police inquiries of the Priory indicate that no inquiry was in fact received from Mrs Addis, but it seems as though she was considering in-patient treatment for her grandson at a specialist centre.”
He continued: “What then followed in the lead-up to her death, is unclear. Only the two of them were at the house and nobody other than Mrs Addis and Pietro were witness to the events immediately before he stabbed her to death as she lay in the bath.”
Mr Scamardella said: “Pietro Addis is charged with the murder of his grandmother, Susan Addis. He admits killing her. His case is that he was suffering from paranoid psychosis at the time, diminishing his responsibility for the killing and he has pleaded guilty to manslaughter to reflect that position.
“However, it is the Crown’s case that Pietro suffered no such psychosis at the time of the killing, and he in fact bears complete responsibility for the murder of his grandmother.”
He said the jury will hear evidence of the teenager’s behavior and presentation in the months prior to Mrs Addis death “are likely to be evidence of the effects of smoking cannabis.”
A post-mortem examination revealed 17 stab wounds to the body: two to the neck, four to the chest, five to the abdomen, four to the left arm and two to the left leg.
Death occurred as a result of the stab wounds in the neck and two of the stab wounds to the chest.
Forensic officers found three knives at the scene. The first was a large black handled knife found on a bathmat found near the bath. The second was a smaller black handled knife found underneath Mrs Addis’ body when she was lifted from the bath. Finally, the police found a third knife inside a jacket recovered from Pietro’s bedroom.