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Wrexham murder trial: 'He would go blank for four or five minutes'

Published date: 16 June 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A MURDER suspect told a psychiatrist he did not kill Craig Maddocks and that “killing him makes no sense”, a murder trial jury was told.

Expert witness consultant neuro-psychiatrist Professor Stephen Martin, called by the defence, told Mold Crown Court he believed Francesco John Prevete was a “brain injured, ex-alcoholic who gives a convincing history compatible with epileptic fitting”.

Asked if he thought he was being conned, Prof Martin said: “I was impressed with the detailed history which went well beyond anything I have seen fabricated.”

Prevete, 46, described by his brother as a gentle giant, denies murdering amateur boxer Mr Maddocks, 34, of Llay, in the gent’s toilets at the Cambrian Vaults pub in Wrexham in the early hours of June 26 last year.

Mr Maddocks, who was a former partner of Mr Prevete’s niece, died of shock and haemorrhaging from multiple wounds to the neck and chest, after 52 stab wounds from a flick knife, the trial jury has heard.

Prevete, of Weale Court, Wrexham, denies murder and claims he is not the killer.

He said he found Mr Maddocks with a knife in his back in the cubicle and that all he did was to try to help him.

Prevete told police at the scene: “I was just trying to plug his holes. The blood was spurting everywhere.”

The defence is also putting forward an alternative defence that if the jury find he committed the killing, he did it in the aftermath of an epileptic event, that he was labouring under an insane automatism.

Prof Martin dismissed a “rage attack” because people who carried out such attacks rarely suffered total amnesia about the incident, he said.

If the jury found Prevete did stab Mr Maddocks, Prof Martin said: “I consider it was more likely an epileptic process.”

He said his description of seeing blood in the toilet as “gold droplets” fitted his conclusion.

“I believe on the balance of probabilities Mr Prevete has epilepsy and he had an epileptic episode in this event, if he is found to have perpetrated the killing. I have thought about that very carefully.”

Most epileptics are not violent, said Prof Martin, but the stabbing and Mr Prevete’s lack of memory would be typical of a violent, insane automative episode.

Asked about the fact Prevete had been drinking during the day after his father’s funeral and had taken cocaine, Prof Martin said: “I have never seen a frenzied attack carried out in the context of alcohol and cocaine. I could not find any case reports or studies about frenzied aggressive attacks with cocaine

“I have seen people violent in police custody due to cocaine but not carrying out frenzied attacks.”

Some discrepancies had been highlighted in the proceedings about Prevete’s “blank episodes”, but Prof Martin said they had not made him change his mind.

He had carried out tests on Prevete and concluded there had been “subtle damage to the nerves at the back of the head” possibly linked to a serious head injury suffered years earlier.

He said an episode at a hospital in Barnsley when Prevete had been admitted with injuries but no recollection of what had happened – followed by aggressive behaviour towards staff – was also compatible with aggression following fits.

Earlier Prevete’s brother Antonio described him as a “gentle giant”.

But asked if there was anything unusual about his behaviour, Mr Prevete said: “We would be sitting, maybe having tea, and then he would just stare and go blank.

“We would be talking to him and looking at him and there was just like a blank look.

“That would go on for a couple of minutes, and then up to four or five minutes. I think I started to notice it about four years ago.”

He had once noticed him with a black eye and bruising to his head but when he pressed him about what had happened his brother could not recall.

He denied claims by Karl Scholz, prosecuting, his brother had told him to corroborate the story about alleged “black outs”.

Mr Scholz has claimed Prevete made up the claims of hallucinations, black-outs, hearing voices and seeing faces after his arrest, while on remand, and said the first forensic psychiatrist who Prevete consulted had not believed what he was saying and he had since changed his story.

The account he gave to the police at the scene showed he was lucid, which was inconsistent with him being in the aftermath of an epileptic seizure, he said.

That was “a strong marker” he had not had a seizure. But Prof Martin said that was one explanation, but he could also have been muddled.

Mr Scholtz said no diagnosis had been made previously and that by a remarkable coincidence no one seemed to have witnessed one of the alleged blackouts.
The defence closed their case on Friday.

The judge told the jury that they would hear the prosecution and defence closing speeches on Monday and they were expected to retire to consider their verdicts on Tuesday when he had summed the case up.

Proceeding

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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