Kent

Jack Ralph trial: Man convicted of killing neighbours

Police at scene
Image caption Margaret and Sharon Harris died at their home in Hadlow

A man who admitted killing two neighbours with a kitchen knife has been found not guilty of murder.

Jack Ralph, 28, was instead convicted of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Margaret Harris, 78, and her daughter Sharon, 55, died at their home in Hadlow, Kent, on 29 September 2018.

Ralph, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2017, was ordered to be detained indefinitely at a secure psychiatric hospital.

A jury at Maidstone Crown Court rejected his plea of insanity and instead unanimously agreed that he was guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

Ralph was also convicted of attempting to murder Mrs Harris's 76-year-old husband, David, who survived the attack with serious injuries.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb had told jurors that Ralph's plea of insanity made it an "unusual trial".

Image caption David Harris survived the attack with serious injuries

Ralph had told police he had been in a "blind rage" when he carried out the attack and was "in full regret".

He searched online for the phrase "how long for murder" before he killed the mother and daughter, the court heard.

He knocked on the front door of the home in Carpenters Lane shortly before 08:00 GMT and launched a knife attack on his neighbours.

'Horrendous attack'

Mr Harris had described how the defendant was "bashing" him with a knife as he tried to fend him off with a rolling pin, the court heard.

He was stabbed multiple times and called emergency services as he lay on the floor.

Mr Harris told the operator: "We've all been stabbed by a knife.... [he] attacked three of us, my wife, my daughter and myself. Who's alive and who's dead I don't know. We're all covered in blood."

Libby Clark, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said it was an "extremely tragic case," adding: "We would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the family of the victims and particularly David Harris, who lost his wife and daughter in this horrendous attack.

"None of us can imagine what they have all gone through over the last few months."

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