Son stabbed father to death after Covid nervous breakdown while on leave
Joe Walker admitted manslaughter on the basis of reduced liability and was ordered to be held in a secure mental hospital after repeatedly stabbing his own father
Image: Lancashire Police)
A son who had suffered a severe mental breakdown due to the lockdown restrictions stabbed his father to death.
Joe Walker repeatedly stabbed his father Thomas, 65, after becoming ‘obsessed’ with Covid following posts he read on Facebook and other social media.
On the eve of the murder, the 33-year-old’s parents went to police to warn them of their son’s behavior after heated arguments sparked by his being to stay home on leave.
But following another argument over the restrictions, Walker, a cleaner, stabbed his father in the head and body in what a pathologist later described as “a sustained and forceful multimode assault.”
He also hit his father’s head as he lay dying.
Police who visited the house Walker shared with his father in Nelson, Lancashire, found him “in a state of restlessness and distress”.
He told them “my father is dead” and the officers found Mr. Walker snr dead in the living room.
Investigations revealed Walker used bleach for the purpose of cleaning the blood from the house and even attempted to stage the crime scene by turning his father’s body face up and placing a knife in the victim’s hand to make it look like he was the aggressor.
At Preston Crown Court, Walker who admitted manslaughter on the grounds of reduced liability was ordered to be held in a secure mental hospital.
His plea of not guilty to murder was accepted by the prosecution.
The court heard that Mr Walker SNR was a “calm man with a huge and caring heart, who loved his son unconditionally”.
But Walker’s mental health deteriorated and he became increasingly paranoid after regularly smoking cannabis and taking cocaine to cope with the effects of the lockdown restrictions.
In the weeks leading up to the fatal attack Mr Walker snr had sought advice on how to deal with his son’s deteriorating behavior and also told co-workers he was concerned about his son.
Walker was severed but was released from Royal Blackburn Hospital a week later and returned to live with his father.
The murder took place the following month, with Janet receiving a phone call from her son on May 22 saying his father was dead.
Police found Mr. Walker snr lying on his back in the living room surrounded by a pool of blood.
Both arms were across his body and a knife had been placed in his hand.
Walker’s blood was found in several rooms of the house, including the upstairs bedrooms.
Detectives said it was clear the victim had been dead for “some time” and that there was also a strong smell of bleach in the property.
Judge Simon Medland QC ruled that if Walker was ever judged well enough to be released from hospital, then he should begin a life sentence because of the danger he poses to the public.
He would then have to serve at least 12 years of that life sentence before being eligible to appear before the parole board.
The judge said: “Some of the injuries sustained were consistent with Tom Walker defending himself and he would, at that point, have known his own son was killing him.
“It’s a tragedy. Tom Walker’s family was devastated knowing that it was not a stranger but his own son who put an end to his life.”
He told Walker: ‘You were psychotic and it is known that cannabis and cocaine can have adverse effects on a person’s mental well-being.
“You have subjected yourself to mental disturbances by continuing to take these substances, and it is largely your fault that you suffered from psychosis, and I am saying that your attack on your father was linked to your drug use. .
“You may have an underlying susceptibility to mental health disorders, but your drug use exacerbated it and you fell into a homicidal psychosis. And I think you pose a very high risk to the public.”
After the hearing Det Ch Insp Lee Wilson of Lancashire Police said: ‘This is a truly tragic case which has seen a man lose his life and a family torn apart.
“My thoughts remain with them and I thank them for their determined support and courage throughout the process.
“Joe Walker is clearly not a healthy man and I hope he will now receive the treatment he so clearly needs. However, I am glad that the public has enjoyed the protection of a life sentence if they are deemed well enough to be released from the hospital. ”
In a statement, the family of Mr Walker snr said: ‘Thomas was a gentle and calm soul without a bad bone in his body. He was passionate about Burnley Football Club and will always be a Claret.
He enjoyed playing darts, walking his dog, and listening to his favorite band, Status Quo.
“Thomas did not deserve what happened and we, his family, are absolutely devastated that he was taken from us in this way.”