Psychiatrist tells of murder suspect's mental illness

A MAN accused of murdering his girlfriend and her daughter had been suffering from a depressive illness for years, a psychiatrist said yesterday.

Professor Nigel Eastman said in addition to being treated for depression he believed Richard Walsh suffered from a borderline personality disorder which made him more fragile to knocks in life and could lead to episodes of violence about which he later had no memory.

He told the jury trying Walsh at Leeds Crown Court if they did decide the defendant had unlawfully killed Samantha Jessop, 38, and her 20-year-old daughter Rebecca, in his opinion he was suffering from an abnormality of mind which would substantially diminish his responsibility for his actions.

Walsh told police he was unable to remember strangling his partner or stabbing her daughter before setting fire to their bodies at their home in Fernside Avenue, Almondbury, Huddersfield, in December 2006. He said he also did not recollect cutting his wrist until police arrived at the house and found him.

He denies the murder of both women between December 9 and 15, 2006.

Prof Eastman who was called on behalf of the defence, told the jury Walsh presented a complex case for psychiatrists.

He had described being sexually and physically abused as a child and his behaviour in school and social services records was consistent with that.

He said Walsh spoke of having anxiety or panic attacks when he would suffer flashbacks of what had happened to him at the hands of two men and of his mother's attitude to him.

He described his head being held under water by one of the men, being thrown against a wall and locked in a cupboard.

He also said on occasions he heard voices before episodes of aggressive behaviour.

Walsh had told him he had stopped boxing because he became too violent to continue.

Prof Eastman said episodes of explosive violence by Walsh would be followed by a lack of memory of events. That had led to him consulting his GP in the past because of his apparent amnesia.

Tests had been done such as brain scans and checks for epileptic fits but no organic explanation could be found.

He told the jury if events mirrored what had happened to him in the past it could trigger a reaction in Walsh because of his emotionally unstable disorder.

The jury has been told they will also have to consider provocation in the case.

Prof Eastman said Walsh described to police arguing with Samantha Jessop on December 9 when he claimed she had punched and kicked him and demanded he get on his knees, kiss her feet and apologise, which amused Rebecca.

If such events mirrored memories of how he had been treated he could be more vulnerable than others to reacting badly.

He said Walsh was prescribed anti-depressants some years ago but Mrs Jessop did not like him taking them because it affected him sexually.

The trial continues.