A man was today (Friday 16 April) sentenced after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of a 71-year-old woman in Knypersley.
Kenneth Andrew McDermid, 43, was issued with a hospital order with restrictions after he admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility for unlawfully killing Ann Wendy Morse last year following an appearance at Stafford Crown Court last month (Tuesday 9 March).
Wendy (as she was known) was found at her home in Tunstall Road, Knypersley, just after 7pm on Sunday 22 March 2020.
McDermid, of Rosemary Place, Sneyd Green – who is also known as Kyle McKenzie - was arrested by authorities in Sweden on Friday 27 March 2020 having fled to the country following Wendy’s death.
The court heard evidence that McDermid had been engaged with mental health services for a number of years and was suffering from a complex form of mental illness prior to, and at the time of, the offence.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Cheryl Hannan, said: “Wendy had been introduced to McDermid as a handyman, and had been carrying out improvement works to her home in the weeks prior to her death.
“There was no clear animosity between the two but clearly something happened for the situation to end this way. However, it’s possible we’ll never know what instigated the attack that led to Wendy’s death.
“McDermid was first identified as a suspect after we established that he’d made contact with Wendy in the days leading up to her disappearance and we soon realised that he’d successfully left the country.
“This raised suspicions because we were heading into the first Coronavirus lockdown and it wasn’t easy for anyone to fly anywhere.
“CCTV footage, alongside phone data and witness evidence, quickly enabled us to establish that McDermid had been at Wendy’s address on Thursday 19 March 2020 and that she hadn’t been seen or heard from since that date.
“Now, McDermid, as part of his sentence, will receive the treatment that he needs in a secure environment that keeps the community safe.
“I hope this goes some way to giving the family some closure after what has been a truly difficult year for them.
“I’d like to thank them for their support and courage during our investigation and would like to issue thanks to Swedish authorities along with the Crown Prosecution Service for their help in detaining McDermid in March last year and achieving justice for Wendy.”
Here are a few words from Wendy’s son and daughter – who ask for their privacy to be respected at this difficult time.
“Mum was a truly unique and irreplaceable woman taken from us too soon.
“The actions and choices of Mr McDermid caused the horrific death of our mum. Fortunately, we are left with happy memories of how mum influenced all of our lives. We hope her death will lead to improvements in mental and social care.
“Thank you to Staffordshire Police for all their efforts and support.”