From Devon & Cornwall Police:
An Italian farm worker who killed a 53-year-old veterinary assistant in East Devon has been given a hospital order.
Luigi Palmas, aged 27, was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court today [Friday 13 November] after he admitted the manslaughter of Katherine Bevan by diminished responsibility.
The body of Ms Bevan, known as Kate, was found in a cattle pen at Combe Farm, in Gittisham, on the night of 3 January this year.
It was initially believed Ms Bevan, who was a volunteer at the stud farm, had been trampled by a bull, but a post-mortem confirmed that she had been strangled.
The court heard Palmas, who had only been in the UK for a month, was suffering from a severe psychiatric disorder at the time of the killing.
Forensic psychiatrists have diagnosed him with schizoaffective disorder, the hearing was told.
His mental health declined significantly in the days after Ms Bevan’s death and he was detained by police under the Mental Health Act on 6 January.
Palmas, who was living and volunteering at the farm, was subsequently arrested on January 20 and charged with the murder of Ms Bevan.
He pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility at Exeter Crown Court on 29 October.
Judge Peter Johnson today sentenced Palmas to a hospital order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act, with a Section 41 restriction.
Palmas will be detained at Broadmoor Hospital where he has been since March.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Rob Back, from Devon and Cornwall Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said following today’s hearing: “This was a complex and challenging investigation and the professional application of the prosecution team has today resulted in the offender, Luigi Palmas, being sentenced after he’d previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility at the beginning of his trial in October.
“The plea was accepted by the prosecution after considering the expert evidence in the case that looked carefully at the defendant’s mental health at the time the crime was committed.
“I’d like to personally thank Kate’s family and friends for the dignity and respect they’ve shown throughout the police investigation in what has been, I’m sure, an unimaginably heart-breaking period for them.
“The hospital order, and the public protection measures with it, is a welcome outcome and means Palmas will not be released back into the community unless it is deemed safe for him to do so.”