Man guilty of Tenerife beheading
- 22 February 2013
- From the section UK
A man has been found guilty of decapitating a 60-year-old British grandmother in a Tenerife supermarket.
Deyan Deyanov, 29, who has a mental health condition, had denied murdering Jennifer Mills-Westley in May 2011.
He faces 15 to 20 years in a psychiatric unit after being convicted by a jury in court in Santa Cruz.
Ms Mills-Westley, from Norwich, had retired to live on the Spanish island. Her family described her as a "highly gifted, selfless person".
The court heard she was repeatedly stabbed and then beheaded at a supermarket near the beach in the Canary Islands resort of Los Cristianos.
Following the verdict, the victim's family issued a statement criticising British authorities for their lack of support.
'Our best friend'
The jury found that Deyanov was guilty of murder because he took his victim by surprise and she could not defend herself.
Under Spanish law he can be found guilty of murder despite his responsibility being diminished as he was suffering schizophrenia.
He remained quiet and still as the verdict was read out. But asked by magistrate Maria Jesus Garcia Sanchez if he had anything to say, he told his Bulgarian interpreter: "I am the the second reincarnation of Jesus Christ and I will bring the fire of the Holy Spirit to bear against this court."
Prosecutor Angel Garcia Rodriguez asked for the maximum sentence of 20 years in a secure psychiatric ward to be imposed, while Francisco Beltran, for the defence, asked that his client receive the minimum sentence of 15 years.
In a joint statement issued through charity Missing Abroad, Ms Mills-Westley's daughters Sarah and Sam said attending the trial had been "incredibly hard on us" and had "reiterated the horror of Mum's death".
"Since 13 May 2011, Jennifer Mills-Westley has become known as the lady who was beheaded in Tenerife. The truth is she was our mum, our mentor and our best friend. She was a highly gifted, selfless person with so much love in her heart and who has been taken away from us in her prime," it said.
"It's hard to put into words the devastating impact that this preventable and needless act has had on us as a family; sadly Mum was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
During his trial, Deyanov said he did not recognise himself in "tough" CCTV footage of the attack and had no recollection of ever living on the island.
The Bulgarian, who was homeless, has been diagnosed with acute paranoid schizophrenia and, when arrested, admitted he had used crack cocaine and LSD.
The trial heard that on the morning of the murder, Deyanov had walked into another shop and asked for a knife "this big" because he was going to kill someone.
At 10.30am he went into the Mas Articulos Mejor Precios shop on Avenida Juan Carlos I, picked up a 22cm-long knife and plunged it repeatedly into Ms Mills-Westley's neck. He then walked out carrying her head before being wrestled to the ground and arrested.
On the first day of the trial, Deyanov said "voices" had told him he was "an angel of Jesus Christ who is going to create a new Jerusalem".
He 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.
In their statement, Ms Mills-Westley's daughters said lessons needed to be learned.
"It is clear to us that there has been a catalogue of failings; unfortunately it is now left to us to piece these together as we still have so many unanswered questions," it 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."
They added: "Words alone cannot express our thanks to the support provided by Victim Support and the Lucie Blackman Trust - Missing Abroad. However, despite our expectations, we have been disappointed by the lack of any other support; notably the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our mum's MP in her hometown in Norfolk."
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "Our thoughts are with Mrs Mills-Westley's family at this difficult time.
"We have provided consular assistance to the family from the outset and consular staff from the FCO in London and British Consulate in Tenerife have met with family members. In addition to this direct contact, the FCO funds the charity organisations Victim Support and Missing Abroad who have provided additional support to the family."