Man handed indefinite hospital order after admitting to killing mother in 'tragic case'

Man handed indefinite hospital order after admitting to killing mother in 'tragic case'

A MAN has been given an indefinite hospital order after admitting to the killing of his mother in what police described as a 'tragic case'.

Zak O'Neill, 21, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire had contacted police over concerns that he might be dangerous the day before he stabbed his mother Michelle to death.

He was sentenced after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Ms O'Neill, 47, by reason of diminished responsibility.

The court heard that O'Neill had been having delusional thoughts in the months before the tragedy, while psychological reports after the incident revealed he was suffering from schizophrenia.

In a statement following Wednesday's sentencing, Detective Inspector Adam Stacey said the killing 'didn't come from a place of hate' and that O'Neill 'believed he was trying to save their souls'.

Hearing voices

The court heard that in the months leading up to the killing, O'Neill was becoming mentally unwell and was having delusional thoughts and hearing voices.

The night before the incident, he contacted police because of his concerns about his mental state and was advised to contact the mental health crisis team.

O'Neill called them and said that he was worried that he was dangerous, that he had not hurt anyone and did not have thoughts about hurting anyone at the moment.

The following day, March 15, 2022, O'Neill stabbed his mother multiple times and then left the home they shared in a vehicle.

He called police while driving to say he had killed someone and that he had hurt himself.

Ms O'Neill was described as 'a much-loved mother, daughter and sister' (Image: Gloucestershire Constabulary)

He then drove to the Air Balloon pub in Birdlip, Gloucester where he was arrested.

Emergency services also attended the home in Salamanca Road, Cheltenham after a relative had found Ms O'Neill with fatal injuries.

After the incident, reports by forensic psychologists found that O'Neill had a severe psychotic illness, namely schizophrenia.

The court was told that O'Neill was actively psychotic at the time of the killing and believed he was on a spiritual quest or mystical journey in order to save their souls.

They also heard that the mother and son enjoyed a loving relationship and that there was no conflict or hostility between them.

'Forever in our hearts'

Following the sentencing, Ms O'Neill's family said that she had been 'devoted to her sons'.

"Michelle was a much-loved mother, daughter and sister," read a statement.

"She was devoted to her sons with whom she had a loving relationship, which makes this tragedy so shocking and difficult to come to terms with.

"Michelle is much missed and will be forever in our hearts."

DI Stacey, from Gloucestershire Constabulary's Major Crime Investigation Team, added that the case was 'heartbreaking for everyone involved'.

"This is a tragic case where a son has killed his mother due to experiencing delusional beliefs at the time," he said.

"From our investigation and subsequent psychiatric reports, it's shown that this awful act didn't come from a place of hate, but instead Zak O'Neill thought his actions would have a different outcome.

"In his mind, due to his mental illness, he thought he was on some form of spiritual journey or quest, and he believed he was trying to save their souls.

"Cases like this are heartbreaking for everyone involved and my thoughts and condolences remain with Michelle O'Neill's family and everyone impacted by this tragedy."

The indefinite Section 41 restriction order imposed by Judge William Hart means that any decision to discharge O'Neill will be made by the Secretary of State.