South East Wales

Man admits killing nurse Karen Welsh at Cardiff home

Karen Welsh
Image caption Karen Welsh met Constantine while she was being treated for depression

A man has admitted killing a fellow former patient who befriended him while she was being treated for depression in hospital.

John Michael Constantine, 32, strangled nurse Karen Welsh, 52, last March after she offered him a place to stay.

He admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility at Cardiff Crown Court and will be detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.

He fled 80 miles after his victim was found dead at her home in Thornhill.

Ms Welsh's family said: "We would like to say that we are pleased that this has finally come to an end and justice has been served."

Cardiff Crown Court heard how Ms Welsh was a "hard-working and caring" nurse working at the kidney unit at the University Hospital of Wales.

She was being treated for depression at Whitchurch Hospital when she met and befriended Constantine.

He was a paranoid schizophrenic, who had been fit and well until suffering a mental breakdown in 2008.

He had changed his name from Kevin Astley to John Constantine after the character played by actor Keanu Reeves in the action-horror movie Constantine released in 2005.

The court heard that Ms Welsh offered Constantine a place to stay at her home in Thornhill, Cardiff as he was homeless and had been sleeping rough in the grounds of Castell Coch.

But Constantine beat Ms Welsh around the face, strangled her and cut her wrist before going on the run.

Police tried to track him down by ringing him on his mobile phone and sending him text messages.

The fugitive later handed himself in after staying in a bed and breakfast hotel 80 miles away in Newtown, Powys.

Constantine denied murder but admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

John Charles Rees, defending, said Constantine had "sought help" for his condition prior to the attack, although he had not been diagnosed with any mental disorder.

Constantine was remanded to a maximum security hospital indefinitely under the terms of the Mental Health Act.

The judge Mr Justice Christopher Clarke said: "The hospital diagnoses about you were sadly wrong. Your killing was linked to your abnormality of mind.

"You will only be released when it has been decided that it is safe for that to occur."