Published: 12:30, 05 October 2017
A pensioner suffering from dementia repeatedly stabbed a bed-bound woman in the face at a care home after wandering into her room, a court heard.
Dennis Latter inflicted 49 wounds on 90-year-old Betty Wood at Kingsfield Care Home in Jubilee Way, Faversham.
“Mercifully, it seems the only implement the defendant could arm himself with was a relatively blunt table knife, which was later recovered by police,” said prosecutor Simon Taylor.
“It is alleged the defendant entered Mrs Wood’s room and proceeded to stab her to the face multiple times while she was incapable of offering any resistance.
“The attack only ended when Mr Latter was interrupted and subsequently restrained by care home staff.”
The victim had been at the home since 2011, while Latter, 79, only arrived just over a month before the attack on December 30 last year.
Although Latter had vascular dementia he was “independently mobile”, while Mrs Wood was dependent on staff for her everyday needs.
Mr Taylor told a jury at Maidstone Crown Court that Latter and Mrs Wood had rooms opposite each other on the first floor.
At about 9pm he entered her room with the knife and slashed at her face, including her eyelids.
Care workers rushed to the room after hearing choking noises. They saw Latter was repeatedly thrusting his hand down on the victim’s head.
“Effectively, he was caught in the act,” said Mr Taylor. “He was then overpowered and taken back to his room while the police were called.”
Mrs Wood was treated for her injuries in the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford for 11 days.
After his arrest, Latter was said to be extremely friendly, talking about sports he used to play and the job he did.
"It is alleged the defendant entered Mrs Wood’s room and proceeded to stab her to the face multiple times while she was incapable of offering any resistance" - Prosecutor Simon Taylor
He said he did not enjoy it at the home and there was a man he did not like. He seemed confused at times, making comments like: “I rearranged his face.”
Asked what he meant, he replied: “...with a sharp implement, probably why I am here.”
When charged, he asked: “Who is Betty Wood? As you would say, I just thought I’d injured Mr Anonymous.”
Mr Taylor said Latter, who was not present in court, was unfit to stand trial on a charge of attempted murder and an alternative of wounding with intent.
The jury, therefore, had only to decide “whether he did the act charged”.
“It is the Crown’s case that the defendant plainly did the act charged,” said Mr Taylor. “He was seen by the care workers who intervened to be the person that was repeatedly thrusting the table knife into Betty Ward’s face and the photographs of her injuries speak for themselves.”
The jury of eight men and four women was out for less than 10 minutes before deciding Latter did the act.
Sentence was adjourned until November 17 for an up-to-date psychiatric report which will help to determine whether a hospital order under the Mental Health Act should be made with or without restriction of time.
Judge Adele Williams said of the verdict: “There is very great public interest in your determining it, not least for Mrs Wood’s family. Also, it has implications for what happens to the defendant next.”
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