Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Relief for family of daughter as magazine artist who killed her is found guilty

Hospital radiographer Alexis Karran, 49, was struck 20 times over the head in a frenzied attack by freelance illustrator Daniel Mitchell, 48, after he became gradually “overwhelmed” by noise caused by workmen.

Manchester Crown Court heard before the killing at their £250,000 two-bed detached, Alexis texted a relative saying of Mitchell: “His poor brain is just broken with stress and utter despair.”

A judge heard Mitchell – who claimed former clients included the Financial Times, Waitrose and Reader’s Digest – was hanging up pictures before they had guests round for Sunday lunch when he snapped and set upon Alexis.

After waiting 20 minutes before dialling 999, police and paramedics found her unconscious at their home in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, with severe head injuries – she was later pronounced dead at Salford Royal Hospital.

Mitchell – detained under the Mental Health Act – admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and will be locked up in a high security hospital until he is deemed fit to be released.

Judge Alan Conrad KC said: “You and Alexis had a good and strong relationship with no suggestion of violence or abuse.

“Had you been mentally well, you would have been horrified at the thought of inflicting any harm on Alexis.

“But at the time you killed Alexis you were suffering from a severe depressive illness together with catatonia, a highly unusual condition and in itself of a serious nature.

“This case was a terrible tragedy involving two people who loved one another dearly and in which there is no suggestion of any malicious motive.”

Alexis – described by family as “happy, selfless and one of the kindest people they knew” – worked at Tameside Hospital as a nuclear medic in the radiology team.

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The court heard she and Mitchell were in a “happy and stable” relationship after getting together in 2010 and despite his history of depressive illnesses, there was no sign Alexis was at risk of harm.

But problems began when Mitchell’s mental condition deteriorated in August 2022 after they moved to their new home.

Prosecutor Tania Griffiths KC said: “He had a poor tolerance to noise and there was protracted building work which became overwhelming in order to make the house a home.

“Then the COVID pandemic hit and affected his freelance work which led him to become more isolated and he felt he was less supported, especially when Alexis was at work.

“However there was no reason for anyone to think his mental health was different than it had been previously.”

Friends said Alexis “tried hard to support and help him put his demons to rest” but her clothes were said to be “hanging off her” and she had “lost her sparkle”.

Just half an hour before the fatal attack at 9am on November 6th last year, Alexis had messaged Mitchell’s sister saying they had been preparing vegetables and a nut roast the night before.

She told her: “It kept him occupied and seemed to calm him.”

Alexis’ brother, Leo Karran, told the court: “To me they seemed to have the ideal relationship, and their love for each other was what I aspired to have. If she was here she would have said: “I’m so sorry this happened to you, Dan, that things got so bad for you.”

Mitchell underwent psychiatric evaluations which concluded he was suffering from a “recurrent depressive disorder leading to catatonia.”

He told a psychiatrist: “I started the day trying to put some pictures up, however the task felt like the biggest chore in the world. I just picked up the hammer and hit her with it, I don’t know why.”

Ronnie Bergenthal, defending, said: “In 30 years of legal practice, I can’t think of a more tragic case than this one.”

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