St Neots beheading: Man detained indefinitely for wife's killing

Samantha Ho Image copyright Cambridgeshire Police
Image caption Samantha Ho was found dead at a house in Curlew Place, St Neots

A man who beheaded his wife at their home has been detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.

Bio-scientist Samantha Ho, 39, was found dead in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, on 29 August.

Her husband Timothy Allen, of Curlew Place, St Neots admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility at Southwark Crown Court.

The court heard that watching an episode of X Factor could have triggered the 40-year-old's actions.

Live: More on Samantha Ho's murder

Image copyright Cambs Police
Image caption Allen was charged with murder after being released from hospital with what was described as a "serious" injury

Medical reports presented in court showed Allen had suffered a series of psychiatric problems, including paranoid schizophrenia, following a motorbike accident in 2004.

He had found it difficult to hold down a job and the week before he killed his wife went twice to see his GP, who referred him to mental health services.

Image caption Friends and neighbours left flowers outside the house where Samantha Ho's body was discovered last year

On the night of Ms Ho's death, the couple were watching an episode of ITV's X Factor, during which Allen suffered a "delusion" and attempted to take his own life, the court heard.

He then turned the knife on his wife and their pet dog, which he also killed.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said despite Ms Ho begging him not to kill her, "he carried on and had meant to do so".

The court heard Ms Ho's "last act" before she died was to call police at about 23:00 BST to say her husband had tried to kill himself.

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Media captionThe family of Samantha Ho who was killed by her husband in St Neots, pay tribute to her

When officers arrived however, Ms Ho was already dead. They found a bare-chested Allen "in the process... of killing [the] dog".

Allen told police he believed dancers on the television show were "puppets being controlled by a puppet master".

He believed this figure was trying to get to him and his wife and so decided he had to take her life and his own, Mr Jackson told the court.

The X Factor episode "appears to have been the trigger for what happened", he said.

Image caption A cordon was put in place around the house

Ms Ho, a former Nottingham Trent University student had worked at bio-science firm Asterand, in Royston, Hertfordshire, for more than 10 years. Before that she was employed at Pharmagene, which is part of Asterand, and Cambridge firm Cytocell.

'Saddest case'

"She wanted to be a great scientist, have time to travel the world, realise her dreams and spend more time with family," Ms Ho's family said.

The day she was "tragically taken... part of us died", they added.

Timeline: Samantha Ho murder

  • 29 August - The body of bio-scientist Samantha Ho is found at Curlew Place, St Neots
  • 29 August - Timothy Allen is arrested on suspicion of murder and taken to hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries
  • 31 August - Allen is charged with murder
  • 16 December - He appears via video link at the Old Bailey and denies murder
  • 26 February - Allen admits manslaughter by diminished responsibility
  • 17 March - Allen is detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act

At his sentencing Allen appeared via videolink from Cambridge Crown Court.

Three members of Ms Ho's family, including her brother and sister, were in court to hear the sentence.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Samantha Ho's sister Stephanie Ho (left) and brother Derek Ho (right) were in court for the sentencing with Det Con Nigel Ebdale from the major crime unit

Sentencing Allen, the Hon Mrs Justice McGowan said: "This was a terrible case... it is a tragic loss.

"What happened that night was clearly a product of a severe and chronic mental illness."

It was "one of the saddest cases this court has had to deal with", she added.

Allen was detained indefinitely under section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983, meaning he will be kept in a secure hospital facility rather than prison.

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