Man given indefinite hospital order for killing neighbour

Paul Wells

Paul Wells. - Credit: Avon and Somerset Constabulary

A man from Highbridge, who killed his neighbour while mentally unwell, has been handed an indefinite hospital order.

Richard Matthews was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on April 16 after pleading guilty at a previous hearing to one count of manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

Paul Wells, aged 39, was stabbed by Matthews on June 25 and pronounced dead at the scene.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Wells' family said described him as an 'amazing' man and said the loss they felt was 'beyond words'.

They said: “(Paul had) a beautiful soul with friends all over the world. Paul was just the best – caring, so funny and very cheeky in the greatest way possible. We miss him very much.

“The loss is beyond words, Paul has an amazing family and words cannot express the pain and anguish our family and friends have endured.”

The court heard that Matthews, aged 45, had made a number of unsubstantiated and inaccurate allegations against Mr Wells’ conduct in the months leading up to the incident. Judge William Hart said Matthews had made a ‘deluded misidentification’ of Mr Wells.

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On the morning of June 25, concerns were raised about Matthews’ wellbeing and police officers attended his home address in Edithmead Lane but received no reply. The ambulance and fire service attended a couple of hours later and made contact with Matthews before leaving the area.

At approximately 2.35pm that afternoon, a 999 call was received from Matthews saying he had killed Mr Wells and he was subsequently arrested.

Matthews has been under the care of mental health experts since his arrest and and pleaded guilty at a hearing in February.

Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Mark Almond said: “Ultimately, this is a tragic case in which a man experiencing a psychotic episode has committed a horrendous and violent crime.

“Paul Wells was an innocent man who had his life cruelly cut short through no fault of his own; it’s clear having spoken with his friends and family how much he was loved.

“His family’s lives have been irreversibly changed by Richard Matthews’ actions. Our thoughts and sympathies continue to go out to them at this difficult time and specially trained officers continue to provide support.”

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