A man from Cheltenham has been given an indefinite hospital order after admitting to killing his mother.
Zak O'Neill, 21, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 47-year-old Michelle O'Neill by reason of diminished responsibility.
He was actively psychotic at the time of stabbing his mother to death last year and believed he was on a spiritual quest or mystical journey in order to save their souls, a court was told.
During a hearing at Bristol Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday 6 September) it was heard that Zak O'Neill stabbed his mother multiple times and then left the home they shared in a vehicle.
He called police while driving to say he had killed someone and that he had hurt himself. He drove to the Air Balloon pub in Birdlip and he was arrested.
Emergency services also attended the home in Salamanca Road in Cheltenham after a relative had found Michelle with fatal injuries.
The court was told that in the months leading up to the killing Zak O'Neill was becoming mentally unwell and he was having delusional thoughts and hearing voices.
The night before the incident he contacted police because of his concerns about his mental state and he was advised to contact the mental health Crisis team. He called them and said that he was worried that he was dangerous, that he had not hurt anyone and did not have thoughts about hurting anyone at the moment.
After the fatal stabbing on 15 March 2022 reports by forensic psychologists found that Zak O'Neill had a severe psychotic illness, namely schizophrenia.
The court was told that it was a loving relationship between the mother and son, and that there was no conflict or hostility.
Zak O'Neill denied murder and instead pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, which was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Judge William Hart imposed a hospital order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act, with an indefinite Section 41 restriction order. The restriction means that, in order to protect the public from serious harm, any decision as to discharge is made by the Secretary of State.
Following the sentence, Michelle's family released a statement. They said: "Michelle was a much loved mother, daughter and sister. She was devoted to her sons with whom she had a loving relationship, which makes this tragedy so shocking and difficult to come to terms with. Michelle is much missed and will be forever in our hearts."
Detective Inspector Adam Stacey from the Major Crime Investigation Team said: "This is a tragic case where a son has killed his mother due to experiencing delusional beliefs at the time.
"From our investigation and subsequent psychiatric reports, it's shown that this awful act didn't come from a place of hate, but instead Zak O'Neill thought his actions would have a different outcome. In his mind, due to his mental illness, he thought he was on some form of spiritual journey or quest, and he believed he was trying to save their souls.
"Cases like this are heartbreaking for everyone involved and my thoughts and condolences remain with Michelle O’Neill’s family and everyone impacted by this tragedy. Zak O'Neill will now be detained in a secure psychiatric hospital so that he can continue to receive the appropriate support."
Zak O'Neill is pictured below
Michelle O'Neill is pictured below with her other son, Tyler.