Northern Ireland

Man jailed for strangling mother during psychotic episode

Laganside courts
Image caption The judge said Viktors Arustamovs was suffering from an "untreated psychotic illness" at the time of the killing

A 26-year-old man who strangled his mother in their County Down home during a psychotic episode will spend a minimum of five years in prison.

Viktors Arustamovs was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court for the unlawful killing of his mother Lija Arustamovs.

The 52-year-old was killed in their home on Main Street, Portavogie, on 12 December 2015.

The judge said Arustamovs suffered from an "untreated psychotic illness" at the time of the killing.

The court heard that the defendant strangled his mother as she lay in bed.

It also heard that Arustamovs took a break from strangling her but resumed when he heard a voice in his head telling him: "If you start, you have to finish."

Drug use

The court heard that after listening to classical music and smoking cigarettes for about an hour, Arustamovs called 999 and told emergency services: "I think I killed my mum... she just stopped breathing."

The judge accepted the killing was not pre-meditated, that the defendant himself alerted the authorities and that he had expressed remorse.

It was also accepted that the defendant was suffering from a psychotic episode that "in all likelihood" was precipitated by drug use.

At an earlier hearing, the court was told Arustamovs came to Northern Ireland in 2011 from Latvia, and had worked on the fishing boats in Portavogie until 2015, when his psychotic problems started to manifest.

Just prior to his mother's death, Arustamovs had been living rough in Dublin and Belfast before returning to the County Down village.

Prosecutors said paramedics were first on the scene after Arustamovs made his 999 call at about 01:16 GMT.

Full admission

Ms Arustamovs was found lying in bed with blood on both sides of her head. A post mortem examination indicated she had been manually strangled.

When police arrived, the court heard that Arustamovs told them he had strangled his mother and made a gesture suggesting such with his hands. He also spoke about his mental health.

After being arrested, the defendant made a full admission that he had killed his mother.

When asked if he and his mother argued, he said "all the time".

He also said that while he did take drugs, he did not have any on the evening in question as he had no money.

'Forgive me'

Arustamovs told police: "I took her by the throat and my heart starting beating so so fast I thought it was going to jump out of my chest."

Despite the confession, Arustamovs told police he did not mean to kill his mother and, at one stage, said: "I don't know what came over me... I couldn't even kill a cockroach."

He told police that when he had finished, he covered his mother with a blanket, placed her hands on her chest and said "forgive me".

He then put on classical music, took four Tempazepam and packed a bag before calling 999.

Prosecutors said Arustamovs was a long-term substance abuser who had a history of "serious mental illness" and had experienced neglect and abuse in his childhood.

Arustamovs defence lawyers said the situation was "tragic" and that: "From a very early age this young man was the subject of an extremely chaotic lifestyle."

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