A TROUBLED teenager has been detained for public protection after a court heard that he battered his mother to death with a baseball bat and told his sister “I hope she’s dead.”
James Gethen, now 16, was only 15 when he attacked his widowed mother Ann hours after she announced on Facebook that she had become engaged.
Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday he had significant psychiatric problems at the time and had shown episodes of unprovoked violence in the past.
Michael Smith, prosecuting, said Gethen attacked his mother in the early hours of August 15 last year and admitted striking several blows as she sat on the settee at their home in Beever Street, Goldthorpe, Barnsley.
He told his sister Paula afterwards: “I don’t care what I’ve done. I’m not bothered. I hope she’s dead.”
He later woke a neighbour and told her: “I hit my mum round the head with a baseball bat. I could see her brains and everything.”
Gethen admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Imposing indeterminate detention for public protection Mr Justice Openshaw said a psychiatrist had described the teenager as highly dangerous with an uncertain prognosis.
Ordering him to serve a minimum of five years initially at a local authority secure unit, the judge stressed the sentence was without limit of time and he would only be released when the Parole Board decided he no longer posed a danger.
The judge was told of one incident in the past where Gethen tried to strangle a fellow pupil in a PE class with a shoelace.
He was also described as having an “extreme” reaction to the death of his father Eric from cancer at the age of 71 in 2009 when he tried to get into the grave and wanted to be buried with him.
Mr Smith told the court at the time of the killing Gethen was living with his sister, his mother, who had been 34 years younger than his father, and her boyfriend to whom she then became engaged.The house was partly boarded up and because his bedroom in the attic had been fire damaged Gethen had to share a room with his sister.
That night he had been drinking in the house and using cannabis and when he eventually went to bed was not happy about the sleeping arrangements and began an argument which ended with him cutting his sister’s arm with a razor.
He then went back downstairs and was joined by his mother and within minutes his sister heard five loud screams.
He later told police after hitting his mother repeatedly about the head he realised she was no longer breathing but still angry went into the kitchen and struck the freezer unit with the bat before smashing the glass in the back door.
Adrian Waterman, QC, representing Gethen, said reports indicated the fact he was born significantly premature and had developed meningitis within weeks. It may have contributed to his problems, which included borderline learning difficulties.
On the night in question his feelings erupted into uncontrollable rage directed against his mother and he wished now he could turn the clock back.
After the case Detective Superintendent James Abdy said it was a tragic event with the family not only having to endure the loss of a loved one but also come to terms with the fact her life was cut short at the hands of her own son.