Tayside and Central Scotland

Catherine Sandeman stabbed to death by mentally ill boyfriend

A woman described her boyfriend as a "psycho" the day before he stabbed her to death, a court has heard.

Catherine Sandeman, suffered 46 wounds, including fatal blows to the neck, during the assault by Lee Hopsdal.

Hours before her death, the 40-year-old told a friend she was becoming scared of Hopsdal due to his increasingly strange behaviour.

Hopsdal, 33, who admitted the killing in Forfar, is currently detained in a psychiatric hospital at Carstairs.

Unemployed Hopsdal, who has previous convictions for assault, was originally charged with murdering Ms Sandeman following the attack in October last year.

But the Crown accepted his guilty plea to a charge of culpable homicide on the basis of diminished responsibility.

He admitted assaulting her by repeatedly striking her on the head with a mug, inflicting blunt force injuries to her head and body and striking and stabbing her repeatedly on the head and body with a knife or knives.

Advocate depute Jennifer Bain told the High Court in Edinburgh that psychiatrists who examined Hopsdal said he was suffering from a psychotic mental disorder.

Later reports said he had paranoid schizophrenia and that he met the criteria for dissocial personality disorder.

The victim was found to have multiple injuries to her scalp, face, neck, chest, abdomen arms and hands.

Bruising and wounds found on her hands and forearms were believed to be defensive injuries suffered as she tried to block blows.

'Expressed concerns'

Bloodstained knives and a multi-purpose tool, with a blade and hammer head, were found at the house.

One knife was found in the dead woman's hand but a pathologist concluded it had been placed there as part of a "staging" of the scene.

Ms Bain told the court that Hopsdal believed Ms Sandeman had attempted to poison him and thought his neighbours were trying to kill him.

The prosecutor said that Hopsdal and his victim began a relationship in around March last year, but in the weeks before her death Ms Sandeman had expressed concerns to family and friends about his behaviour.

She said that on 27 October Ms Sandeman visited her sister and said Hopsdal had been saying "weird things". She also described him as a "psycho".

The advocate depute said: "The deceased's sister encouraged her to leave the accused and move in with her, but the deceased said she was worried about what the accused might do if he saw her removing her possessions."

Medical concerns

On the day of the fatal attack he had gone to a pharmacy and was seen to be soaking with sweat and picked up a cup of water and threw it over his head.

Later that evening a neighbour heard banging and thuds coming from Hopsdal's flat, but did not hear any voices.

The advocate depute said: "It is believed that what the neighbour heard was the attack on the deceased which led to her death."

Hopsdal was seen the next day in Dundee with an injury to his hand which he claimed he sustained in self-defence. He said the incident happened in Forfar and he had run all the way from there.

He was taken to Ninewells Hospital and a doctor became concerned over his mental health after he said he was burning from ultraviolet rays which were being shot from the roof and began using a blanket as a shield.

Defence counsel Mark Stewart QC said further reports would be required by the court before the case was disposed of.

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