Published: 10:25, 09 February 2018
A pensioner is facing a long jail sentence for the attempted murder of a manager at his retirement home in Maidstone, after it was decided he should not be dealt with under the Mental Health Act.
Fred Butcher struck his victim on the back of the head with the blunt end of a cleaver and caused her other serious injuries at Hengist Court in Marsham Street on January 26.
An interim order had been imposed for Fred Butcher to be detained at a hospital in Surrey pending sentence.
But a judge has now been told there had been “a change in circumstances” in that a psychiatrist’s view was that the 80-year-old widower was not suitable for a hospital order as a final disposal of the case.
“He will, therefore, be returned to custody,” said prosecutor Peter Forbes.
Butcher was due to sentenced as long ago as June last year after admitting in March the attempted murder of Mina Turner.
There were numerous delays because of Butcher’s mental state at the time.
Mrs Turner, 59, was left with wounds to her abdomen, a perforated bowel and liver damage. She also had fractured bones and permanent tendon damage to her wrist.
Mr Forbes said there was long-term physical and psychological harm from the “planned” attack.
“There is permanent scarring and permanent disability to her wrist,” he added.
Judge Philip Statman described it as “a very grave offence”, adding: “There is a victim in this case.
"No doubt the victim’s health will be a whole lot better when she has some completion in her involvement in the most terrible violence that has been inflicted on her.”
There had been concerns about Butcher’s various medical conditions, including a possible cancer diagnosis.
But Mr Forbes said: “Thankfully, those tests have had a positive outcome for him. There is no cancerous growth.”
The starting point for sentence, he said, was 20 years imprisonment, with a range of 15 to 25 years, although his age would be taken into consideration.
Butcher will now be sentenced on March 23 following the preparation of a report to assess dangerousness.
In the meantime, he will be transferred to Elmley Prison in Sheppey.
“Until reading this report, uppermost in my mind was a mental health disposal,” said the judge. “We are now in different territory.”
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