A MENTALLY ill Scottish man has pleaded guilty to stabbing a member of the famous Fiennes family to death with a pair of scissors at an upmarket pub.
Nicholas Hunter, 37, did not know James Fiennes before he killed him at the Tapestry bar and restaurant in Mortlake, south-west London, on the evening of 22 April last year.
Mr Fiennes, 49, a father of two, was stabbed three times in the unprovoked attack and died in the early hours of the morning at St George’s Hospital in Tooting.
Before he collapsed, the victim – a cousin of the explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes – tried to contain his attacker, putting him into a bear hug, before a retired police officer punched Hunter in the face and grappled him to the ground.
After the killing, Scottish-born Hunter, who lived in Clapham with his wife and baby, said he had been suffering from auditory hallucinations telling him to be a “Glasgow hard man” and that he had really wanted to kill the Queen.
At a hearing at the Old Bailey, Hunter, originally from Uddingston, denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility, which was accepted by the prosecution.
Judge Gerald Gordon sentenced him to a hospital order under section 37 of the Mental Health Act together with a restriction order under section 41, which is without limit of time.
The court heard that, at the time of the killing, Hunter, an aeronautical engineer, was suffering from schizoaffective disorder which left him feeling paranoid, suspicious and out of touch with reality.
Although he had suffered from mental health problems in the past, he had stopped taking medication and his symptoms reappeared after the birth of his child in February last year. On the day of the attack, he bought a pair of scissors from a Sainsbury’s store before arranging to meet his friend and boss Thomas Olsen for an after-work drink at the tapas bar, prosecutor Zoe Johnson QC said.
He appeared calm but strained when he announced to his shocked friend: “I’m going to have a sex change,” before adding: “I should not have told you that. I’m going to kill you. The world is going to end at midnight tonight.”
After the two men sat down, Hunter called out “Hi James” to Mr Fiennes who was sitting nearby working on a laptop computer.
Ms Johnson said: “Despite extensive investigation there is no evidence the defendant knew Mr Fiennes or indeed knew his name and it may be the most awful ghastly coincidence that the defendant addressed Mr Fiennes by his correct name.”
She went on: “There is no evidence the two men knew each other.
“However, having been addressed by name, Mr Fiennes walked over and asked where he knew the defendant in a polite fashion.
“The defendant then said: ‘James, I’m going to have to kill you’.
“Mr Fiennes clearly thought this was a joke and in the spirit of banter made a gesture to unbutton his shirt and ask, ‘What are you going to do to me?’ Then without provocation the defendant stabbed Mr Fiennes.”
Ms Johnson said Mr Fiennes “bravely” tried to control the situation by pulling Hunter into a bear hug before retired police officer Roy Fraser stepped in to restrain him on the floor until police and paramedics arrived.
After the attack, Mr Fiennes was able to stand and talk but he deteriorated quickly and lost consciousness while a number of pub-goers tried to help and comfort him before he was rushed to hospital.
A post-mortem examination found that Mr Fiennes died from bleeding and a scissor stab wound to the heart.
The defendant, who was held on remand at Broadmoor maximum security mental hospital, later reported having cataclysmic thoughts and claimed at the time he had wanted to kill the Queen.
The court heard how the death of importer Mr Fiennes had a “catastrophic” effect on his family.
Mr Fiennes was said to be a relative of the famous Fiennes clan, which also includes acting brothers Joseph and Ralph Fiennes.
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