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15 December 2010, 12:38
An inquest has heard how a teenager getting ready for school found his mother being stabbed to death by their next door neighbour.
Eighteen year old James Killen managed to get the knife off Jonathan London and stab him to protect his mother.
Both Mr London and Sandra Crawford died in the incident in Sherwood Avenue in St Albans on April 30th.
Coroner Edward Thomas records of verdicts that Jonathan London was lawfully killed and that Sandra Crawford died from stab wounds inflicted by a person suffering from a severe mental illness.
Turning to both families, who were in court, the coroner said: "Nothing I can say can take away how awful this must be for you. I am really sorry for what happened. There is nothing I can say to make it any better.
"I am particularly sorry for you James."
He said he had tried to imagine himself as a youngster in that position and it was his own mother who was being attack.
The coroner told the teenager: "What you did was to try and save your mum's life. You saw her being attacked and you tried to save her life. You tried by fists and it was only after that you decided there was nothing else you could do other than take up that knife.
"You took the knife because you wanted to save your mother's life."
Mr Thomas said afterwards the teenager dialled 999 and did everything right.
The coroner went on to say he was satisfied that Jonathan London suffered from a major mental illness. "The exact diagnosis of that illness would not have been known until a full assessment was carried out," he said.
He said that up and until the day he died Jonathan London had no history of violence and was not known to the police. There was no previous psychiatric history and he said he could understand why it was felt he would be assessed for home treatment and remain in the community.
Sandra Crawford's family has released the following statement:
“Sandra was a much loved, kind and caring person, who is sadly missed by all who knew her. She filled our lives with cheerfulness, laughter and joy.
“The circumstances surrounding the untimely death of Sandra have been widely reported.
“We hope and pray that out of these tragic events some lessons will have been learned and that other families will not have to endure the same trauma as we have.”
Hertfordshire Police has also released the following statement:
"The London family would like to confirm that the last eight months have been a deeply distressing time for all families concerned. They feel very sad that they have lost a son and a brother but also that James has lost his mother.
"The family would like to confirm that Jonathan was always a gentle and placid man who was sadly suffering from a severe mental illness at the time of this terrible tragedy."