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19 December 2016, 11:27
A Polish warehouseman who broke into a family home and stabbed a mother to death while she was on the phone to her husband was today ordered to be locked up in a psychiatric unit indefinitely.
Marcin Porczynski, 26, claimed voices told him a child was being starved inside 37 year old Nicola Cross' home in Hemel Hempstead
Her husband Danny, 38, who was working away on an IT job in Hull, heard her desperate fight for life, but could do nothing to help her.
In a victim personal statement Danny said: "I will never forgive myself for not being there to protect her."
Porczynski, who lived around the corner from the Cross family, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility on the night of September 14 to 15 last year. His plea was accepted by the prosecution at St Albans crown court on Friday. The paranoid schizophrenic, who may have been hearing voices for two years before the killing, told doctors he had to sacrifice Mrs Cross or his family in Poland would be killed. He had arrived in the UK to work in early 2015.
Today Judge Andrew Bright QC ordered that Porczynski should be detained at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire under a hospital order with a restriction without limit of time.
The judge told Porczynski, who appeared via a video link from Rampton wearing a cream crew top: "As you were breaking in, Nicola Cross was on the phone to her husband Daniel. She told him that she had heard a noise and that he should hold on while she went to investigate. By then you had gone to the kitchen and taken one of the knives from a knife block. Although Nicola Cross tried to reason with you and heroically did her best to protect herself and her two young children from you, she was completely defenceless against the vicious knife attack you launched upon her."
The court heard he had used a small knife taken from home and when that broke continued with a larger knife taken from the kitchen.
The judge went on: "Nicola Cross suffered 10 stab wounds to her torso and other injuries consistent with a struggle. So severe were the wounds you inflicted upon her that she would have become unconscious almost immediately and died very soon after. Nicola Cross was only 37 years of age when you took her life. I have had the advantage of reading victim impact statements from her husband Daniel, her mother Karon Fisher and from other members of her family and closest friends. No-one could fail to be deeply moved by the account they give of the devastating effect which her death had upon each of them. The experts are agreed that the defence of diminished responsibility is appropriate in your case and I am in no doubt the prosecution were right to accept a plea to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. It is plainly necessary for the protection of the public from serious harm to impose a Restriction Order because there is currently a serious risk that you would commit further offences if set at large."
At around 10.45 that night Mrs Cross herself had called the police after the defendant had banged on her door and reported that he was looking at her windows.
Officers questioned him at that time and after he provided his name, age and address he was allowed to go on his way. He is thought to have gone home and collected the small knife before breaking into Mrs Cross's home by throwing a garden pot through the patio door at 11.25.
Mrs Cross's husband was in court to hear the judge say: "The circumstances in which you killed Nicola Cross were utterly horrific and senseless and represent the worst possible nightmare of every husband and parent. You have devastated the lives of the Cross family and left two young children to grow up without the wonderful mother who so loved and cared for them. Those responsible for deciding if and when you should ever be released back into the community will need to look long and hard at the full circumstances of the dreadful killing which your mental illness led you to commit. The paramount consideration which must govern any decision about your release must be the safety of the public. You must not be released until those responsible for your care and treatment are completely satisfied that you no longer pose a danger and that you will be subject to qualified medical supervision which will be sufficient to ensure the safety of the public in whichever country you may choose to live."