THE family of a British grandmother have condemned “a catalogue of failings” by authorities which led to her being beheaded by a drug addict in a frenzied knife attack in Tenerife.
Jennifer Mills-Westley was murdered on the holiday island by homeless Bulgarian Deyan Deyanov, 29, who was yesterday sentenced to 20 years in a secure psychiatric unit for the killing. Deyanov was convicted of the murder by a jury of nine at the Provincial Court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on Friday.
He repeatedly stabbed and beheaded 60-year-old Ms Mills-Westley while she was shopping in the popular resort of Los Cristianos in the Canary Islands, Spain, on May 13, 2011.
In a written sentence, magistrate Maria Jesus Garcia Sanchez imposed the toughest tariff available for the schizophrenic, who the jury found had diminished responsibility for his crime. She also ordered that Deyanov, who was living rough when he randomly murdered Ms Mills-Westley, should pay her daughters, Sarah and Samantha Mills-Westley, 100,000 euros.
During a four-day trial, Deyanov denied murder and said he did not recognise himself in closed- circuit television footage of the attack which was shown to the jury. He also claimed to hear voices which told him he was an “angel of Jesus Christ”, who had been sent to create a new Jerusalem.
In her written sentence, Ms Garcia Sanchez said she took into account the “criminal danger” Deyanov represented, and also said Ms Mills-Westley had had no chance given the “forceful and unexpected” nature of the attack she suffered.
“Frequently, homicidal intent is something which must be inferred,” she added. “In this case, homicidal intent exists without a doubt and inferences are unnecessary.”
Ms Mills-Westley, a retired road safety worker who was originally from Norwich, had complained that Tenerife was less safe than when she started visiting 30 years ago.
Deyanov was well-known to police on the island and had been arrested at least four times since January 2011 for violent offences. A warrant for his arrest had been issued just three days before the killing, but officers were unable to locate him.
He had previously been sectioned in the summer of 2010 under the Mental Health Act in Glan Clwyd Hospital, North Wales, and again at Tenerife’s La Candelaria hospital before being bailed in early February 2011.
After the trial, Sarah Mills-Westley, 43, from Norwich, and Samantha, 39, who lives in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France, said a “catalogue of failings” by “a number of authorities” led to their mother’s death.
They said: “We would like to make a plea that the care of people like Deyan Valentinov Deyanov is taken more seriously. He is a young man who has clearly been failed by a number of authorities, in the UK, Spain and most likely others.”
On the morning of the murder, in a Chinese-owned general store near the beach, Deyanov picked up a 22cm-long knife and plunged it repeatedly into Ms Mills-Westley’s neck. He then walked out carrying her head, to the horror of onlookers, before being wrestled to the ground and arrested. The jury found that Deyanov was guilty of murder because he took his victim by surprise and she could not defend herself.
Even though he was suffering schizophrenia and his responsibility was diminished, in Spanish law he is guilty of murder.
Asked if he wanted to add anything after his verdict was read out, he said: “I am the second reincarnation of Jesus Christ and I will bring the fire of the Holy Spirit to bear against this court.”
In a poignant interview after the tragedy, Ms Mills-Westley’s ex-husband Peter said she was a “wonderful woman, a brilliant mother and I loved her dearly”. Former colleagues at Norfolk County Council, where she taught cycling safety to schoolchildren, said she had been “popular and well-respected”.
Neighbours at the Port Royale apartment complex on the hillside edge of Los Cristianos, where she had lived for around 10 years and rented out a second flat she owned, described her as “quiet and peaceful and always immaculately dressed”.