A MAN has lost a court appeal against his conviction for the attempted murder of his parents and grandmother.

Jonathan Robert Keal, formerly of Bristol, was convicted of three counts of attempted murder of Robert and Lynda Keal, as well as of 91-year-old Marjorie Blacker, at Winchester Crown Court on June 22, 2021 and on October 11 of that year was sentenced to a hospital order under the Mental Health Act.

During his trial it was heard the “frenzied attack” on his parents and his elderly grandmother involved the use of knives, scissors, a cricket bat and dumbbells and took place at their home in Sandleheath on the night of September 26, 2018.

The appeal asked the court to "quash" the convictions on the three counts of attempted murder and "substitute verdicts of not guilty by reason of insanity" and also made the submission that the jury were “misdirected in relation to the issue of insanity” by the trial judge.

Keal’s trial heard that his mental health deteriorated after he came off his medication and that he suffered from “high level schizophrenia”. Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, told the trial that Keal had been staying with his parents after they became concerned about a deterioration in his mental health.

Ms Maylin said Mr Keal woke up to find his son stabbing him. Keal, who was 37 during the time the trial took place, then attacked his father again with a cricket bat and another knife.

The prosecutor said Mrs Keal was attacked while asleep in bed and then pursued into the ensuite bathroom where she was stabbed in the chest and neck with a pair of scissors.

The appeal judgement says that at trial the prosecution’s case was that Keal had intended to kill all three victims and that the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity was not open to him “because at the time of the attempted murders he knew what he was doing was against the law and wrong”, while the defence case was that Keal was “insane at the time” and “operating under a multiplicity of delusions, including a belief that he was possessed by the devil”.

During the trial evidence was given by four psychiatrists - two for both the defence and prosecution.

The appeal was dismissed. The judgement said: “We are satisfied that, in light of the evidence presented to the jury, the judge’s direction of law in the present case was appropriate.

"The jury were directed to consider whether the appellant knew that what he was doing was ‘wrong’. On that issue, the competing opinions of the psychiatrist were placed before the jury. Two experts took the view that he did know; the other two considered that he was unable to decide that it was wrong.”

The judgement from the Court of Appeal said on the basis of the evidence and the judge’s direction, the jury “could have found the appellant did not have the relevant knowledge of wrongdoing and thus that the defence of insanity was established”.

The judgement added: “They chose not to do so, but instead reached verdicts consistent with the evidence of the prosecution experts. On any view, the convictions are safe.”


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