Son who battered mum to death with hammer hid mental health relapse in pandemic

A son who beat his mum to death managed to hide signs that his schizophrenia was getting worse in the weeks before he killed here.

Spirit a court heard that changes to appointments as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic had made it harder for doctors to assess patients like Andrew Tinton.

The 55-year-old used a lump hammer to kill 82-year-old mum Rose Marie Tinton at their home.

Pathologists said she had been struck at least 30 times during the frenzied January 2021 attack.

He was detained in hospital under the mental health act earlier this week after admitting his guilt over the killing.

Our sister title the Liverpool Echo reports he later tried to take his own life.

Liverpool Crown Court heard on Thursday how Tinton had lived with mental health problems for almost 30 years and was receiving treatment for paranoid schizophrenia for much of that time.

Psychiatrists treating him said he appeared to be largely compliant with the medication and appointment regime set out for him by doctors and was coping with the condition.

That changed rapidly against the backdrop of the pandemic, as well as the death of his dad, who doctors said was a central figure in his life.

Nigel Power, QC, prosecuting, said Covid restrictions meant the appointments he normally would have attended in person were only held remotely.

Despite this, psychiatrists continued to monitor him over the phone, checking on his mental state and whether he was taking his medication.

At first, it appeared that he was coping fairly well but he told them he found lockdown restrictions difficult.

Then, in the summer, his dad was admitted to hospital with cancer. He was later discharged but died in August.

His death affected Tinton and his mum deeply, with a judge saying his dad had been “a key figure in his life”.

In later discussions with doctors towards the end of the year, Tinton reported that he at times heard voices telling him to harm himself.

Doctors continued to assess him and noted that his condition was worsening, as did a taxi driver who was one of the last people to see Tinton and his mother together a few days before he killed her.

Mr Power said: “The last contact with him described him as being ‘not his usual self’. He went with his mother for her Covid vaccination.

“The taxi driver who took them describe his mother as being ‘chirpy’ – but she became upset and started to cry because she was worried about her son.”

On January 29, 2021, Tinton beat his mum to death with a lump hammer he found in their shed.

Shortly afterwards, he left their home and, after looking for a place to take his own life, jumped off the railway bridge near Kirkdale station.

It was only when officers went to his Folkestone Road home to inform his mum of her son’s suicide attempt that they found her body.

Tinton later said he heard voices that “told him to kill himself and his mother”.

Dr Dineka Gray, a psychiatrist at Rowan View Hospital who treats Tinton, said all evidence pointed to him being symptomatic of his illness at the time.

She added that the nature of some of the changes to appointments made as a result of the pandemic made it harder for doctors to assess patients like Tinton.

Recommending he be detained in hospital until he is no longer deemed a risk to the community, Dr Gray said that the extent of Tinton’s deterioration had not been clear to a doctor in a phone call not long before he killed his mother.

Dr Gray said: “He masked his symptoms to the point that even a junior psychiatrist speaking to him on the phone could not detect that he had deteriorated.”

Julian Nutter, defending Tinton, said that, despite the efforts of staff, changes to Tinton’s treatment as a result of Covid were likely to have had an impact on their ability to treat him.

He said: “The tragedy is not just a tragedy from the point of view of what he did to his mother but it is that all of this appears to have been preventable.”

Detaining Tinton in hospital, Judge Denis Watson, QC, said the voices he heard as a result of his mental illness had devastating consequences.

He said: “The tragic consequence and effect of this was that on this occasion the voices told you to harm not just yourself but your mother, which is to me a sign of the severe nature of the relapse.”

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