Schizophrenic Sentenced

17 November 2010, 14:15 | Updated: 17 November 2010, 15:22

A paranoid schizophrenic who knifed a man to death in his hallway after suspecting he was a witch was locked up indefinitely today.

Steven Dunne, 41, (pictured) launched his attack after believing Gordon Stalker had captured his soul when he took pictures of him on trips out together.

Unemployed Dunne suspected 51-year-old Mr Stalker of controlling his mind and that only by killing him could he be freed from his grip.

His delusional thoughts also extended to the belief that a team from the local housing department acted as agents for Mr Stalker.

Dunne's behaviour became so erratic that their landlady ordered him to leave the property they shared with others in Elm Grove, Brighton, East Sussex.

Mr Stalker gained a restraining order banning Dunne from returning to the house and he was found a new home.

But on February 15, Dunne walked to Elm Grove and armed himself with a kitchen knife before slashing Mr Stalker's car tyres.

Later, he knocked on the door and when Mr Stalker answered with just a towel wrapped around him, Dunne stabbed him repeatedly in the communal hallway.

Dunne fled the scene but surrendered himself days later when he walked into Charing Cross police station in London and admitted the killing.

Yesterday at Lewes Crown Court, Dunne pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Sentencing him today, Judge Anthony Scott-Gall detained Dunne indefinitely at a medium-secure psychiatric unit under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act.

He heard evidence from psychiatrists that Dunne suffered from an acute form of paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing and was prone to relapse.

The judge told Dunne: ``This was a dreadful crime made even worse by the fact that an innocent and decent man was stabbed for what were wholly irrational reasons.

``The genesis of the offence began when you and the deceased were neighbours in Elm Grove. Mr Stalker befriended you at a time when your own mental health began to deteriorate.

``He had no inkling at all that you were beginning to suspect him of controlling your thoughts and taking possession of your soul.''

The court was told that the decline in Dunne's mental health could possibly be traced to a car accident he was involved in back in October 2000.

Speaking from his home in Carlisle today, Mr Ian Stalker, Gordon's father, issued this statement through Sussex Police;

"We have today been informed by Sussex Police that Stephen Dunne has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. We understand that he has been committed to a secure unit and is under the care of medical professionals.

Gordon was a much loved son and brother, and is missed by the whole family. We are obviously deeply upset that Gordon had to lose his life before Dunne got the help that he obviously needed, and we hold no malice towards him.  We would like to thank Gordon’s friends in Brighton for their support and condolences."