Wednesday 19 September 2018

Father killed his daughter 'because he could no longer cope with her mental health problems'

Olivia Kray
Olivia Kray
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A father killed his daughter in a caravan because he could no longer cope with her mental health problems, and then tried to murder her mother.

Richard Kray said he "lost the plot" and was "at his wits' end" with his 19-year-old daughter Olivia when he strangled her in the Westlands Caravan Park near Herne Bay, Kent, on July 21 last year.

He then tried to strangle his ex-partner Damyantee Cowan, also known as Sheela.

The 64-year-old admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility and attempted murder in December and appeared at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday for a sentencing hearing.

In what he said was a "complex and unusual case" Simon Taylor, prosecuting, told the court Ms Kray, who was described as "loving and "kind", had a severe anxiety disorder. She had battled mental health problems since the age of 10 and was dependent on her father to accompany her when she wanted to go out.

In 2016 health professionals noted her parents had "reached the end of their tether with her".

The court heard how in April and May last year Ms Kray called mental health professionals and the police on numerous occasions if her father had left her "for a break".

She would repeatedly try to contact her father if they were not together, sometimes with messages which simply said "help".

Mr Taylor said: "It is clear that this pressure was taking its toll on Mr Kray and he could not see any future."

On May 24, he told his sister Janice Wallace that it would be "easier to kill the three of them" meaning himself, Ms Cowan and Ms Kray.

By July, Kray's ability to cope with his daughter's illness was "rapidly diminishing", Mr Taylor said.

Less than a week before he carried out the killing, he told Ms Cowan: "Let's crash the car, let's all be killed together", when his daughter was badgering him while he negotiated busy traffic on the way back from a trip to Bluewater Shopping Centre.

Three days before her death, he told her friend's mother Julie Lambert: "She keeps baiting me", adding: "I'm just so so tired, I've been at work and now I'm having to deal with this. It's every bloody day.

"You know what I've even thought about killing the pair of them. Obviously I wouldn't, I love her, she's my daughter.

"It's my bloody fault, I've let it go on too long."

On the day of the killing he was described as sounding "unusually stressed or angry" by one of Ms Kray's friends who phoned to find out where she was.

After he strangled her in the caravan where he lived, he called Ms Wallace and said: "I have done a terrible thing. I have killed Livvy. She is laying across the bed."

Then he went to Ms Cowan's house and when she came home to find him inside, pretended he was waiting for their daughter who he said was upstairs.

But when Ms Cowan started looking for her, he grabbed her by the neck with both hands and pressed his thumbs hard into her throat while making a "deep growling noise".

Mr Taylor said she was "frozen with panic" and could not breathe. He dragged her between the hallway and lounge, then put his hands over her mouth, pushed her onto the stairs and climbed on top of her.

She struggled and kicked a radiator to attract attention, finally managing to break free. Fearing Kray would try to smother her when he grabbed a cushion from the sofa, she ran for the back door and escaped to a police station.

Kray handed himself in shortly after and told officers what he had done, adding: "We've had months and months and months of mental health problems with my daughter and Sheela and it just come to a head and I couldn't stand it anymore and I just did it."

After telling police where his daughter's body was, he said: "I couldn't let her suffer any more, so I just, I know it sounds callous, but I couldn't think of anything else to do. I'm at my wits' end for months and months. I know it's no excuse."

He told officers he wanted to die after saying he had "blacked out" and "knew what he was doing", adding: "I've just lost the plot."

He was deemed unfit for interview and taken to the Trevor Gibbens psychiatric clinic in Maidstone for treatment.

Judge Philip Statman indicated he will pass a sentence which allows Kray to continue to be treated at the facility before being moved to jail.

He added: "There's a great deal of public interest in this case and I wouldn't want it thought that the medical services failed her (Ms Kray) in any way. It's very important we understand that."

The hearing continues on Monday.

Press Association

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