South East Wales

Porthcawl man's stabbing life sentence overturned

The Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London
Image caption His sentence was overturned at the Criminal Appeal Court in London

A man who was jailed for life 15 years ago for attempted murder was mentally ill and should not have gone to prison, judges have ruled.

Matthew Kitchener, from Porthcawl, attacked victim Helen John-Hall on the doorstep of her Wellfield Avenue home on his 20th birthday in August 2002.

She was stabbed in the neck and strangled, and only survived because a neighbour disturbed him and he ran off.

He pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court in November that year.

Kitchener, now 34, confessed to a friend who called the police.

He has been held in a series of young offenders' institutions and prisons, then at mental hospitals.

On Friday, three senior judges at London's Criminal Appeal Court said he should never have been sent to jail in the first place, following an appeal by his lawyers.

'Violent fantasies'

Lord Justice Flaux said Kitchener had served five years in 2007 and was being considered for a move to an open prison when mental health concerns arose.

He was assessed and "scored very highly" on a psychopathy test, resulting in him actually being moved to more secure conditions.

There, Kitchener attempted suicide and spoke of "increasingly violent thoughts and fantasies".

He was sectioned and has since been confined to various secure mental hospitals, where he is receiving treatment.

Assessment of the offender, who now uses the name Jude Armel, had resulted in a diagnosis of a "psychopathic disorder".

'Prison counter-productive'

It was probably that disorder which caused the apparently motiveless and impulsive attack, as opposed to any "criminal motive", experts said.

Allowing his appeal, the judge, sitting with Mr Justice Blake and Mr Justice William Davis, said he was convinced Kitchener had suffered from the psychopathic disorder at the time.

He continued: "In the light of what is now known, he needs hospital treatment. His disorder was not initially identified in prison and cannot be treated there.

"Prison is counter-productive to the treatment needed, that can only be provided in a hospital setting."

The life term was replaced with a mental health order, meaning he will be detained and treated in a mental hospital until experts are convinced he is not a danger.

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