Casey murder accused ‘sought refuge with a pagan priestess’

Casey Kearney. Below: Hannah Bonser
Casey Kearney. Below: Hannah Bonser
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A PAGAN priestess yesterday told how a woman accused of a teenager’s murder begged to take refuge in her London shop claiming an “international conspiracy” was out to get her.

Christina Oakley-Harrington said Hannah Bonser arrived at Treadwell’s in central London last September, months before Casey Kearney was stabbed in Doncaster’s Elmfield Park.

Miss Oakley-Harrington, who described herself as a priestess, said Bonser had been “terribly distressed” when she arrived at the shop in Store Street, near King’s Cross station.

Bonser, who Sheffield Crown Court has heard was interested in pagan and druidic beliefs, had apparently travelled to the shop because she had felt it would be able to protect her.

Miss Oakley-Harrington a former university lecturer, said she had thought Bonser was around 17 or 18 and added: “She said they were after her, they were going to kill her.

“She had come to find somebody who could exorcise her. She thought she was being demonically attacked by an international, invisible conspiracy, possibly Catholics, possibly Mormons.”

The bookshop owner said Bonser, 26, had been sleeping in Victoria Station in the capital, and would not go back to Doncaster, because it was “full of demons who were attacking her”.

Several attempts were made to find Bonser help, but eventually Dr Oakley-Harrington took Bonser to University College Hospital, where she was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The court heard she was then taken back to Doncaster, where she was admitted to the town’s St Catherine’s mental hospital but discharged after just five days by staff there.

Miss Oakley-Harrington was asked by David Fish QC, defending, whether she had remained in contact with Bonser and she said she had received text messages from her on her mobile phone.

She added: “She would send me texts about once a week saying they are here again, they are attacking me could you fix it?”

The court also heard from a consultant psychiatrist Dr Alexander Shubsachs, who had assessed Bonser shortly after her arrest on February 14, the day Casey was stabbed.

He said he had immediately thought she was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and not the borderline personality disorder which doctors at St Catherine’s had diagnosed.

Dr Shubsachs said meetings with Bonser and examinations of rambling letters and other writings she had produced both before and after the attack confirmed his belief.

The psychiatrist also said that Bonser, had first come to the attention of psychiatric services in Doncaster in 2001, and at the age of 17 in 2002 had presented herself at A&E at Doncaster Royal Infirmary and had complained of hearing voices at that time.

Dr Shubsachs said Bonser’s writings demonstrated “a psychotic illness” and she had been suffering from both “tactile and auditory hallucinations” including the feeling that somebody was burning her.

He read some extracts from Bonser’s letters to the court, one of which said: “They used transmigration to have my vessel of bone, stone and earth flesh to commit a murder”.

Another extract mentioned Elmfield Park, where Casey was stabbed and Dr Shubsachs said: “Elmfield Park was in a way connected with psychotic ideas and its possible they were still in place at the time of the events in question.

“Her writings are thought-disordered and consistent with a schizophrenic illness and not a simple personality disorder.

“They are the product of somebody who is psychotic and not somebody who had a personality disorder although that person may have had a personality disorder ages ago.”

Bonser, of Cusworth House flats in Doncaster town centre, has denied murder.

The court has been told that she is likely to claim she was suffering from diminished responsibility as a result of her mental condition at the time of the attack.

The trial continues.