A ‘HIGHLY abnormal’ South Yorkshire teenager who fought and bullied his way through school and hears voices in his head clubbed his mother to death in a fit of rage.
James Gethen, who was 15 at the time, struck his 39-year-old mum Ann with a baseball bat in a “sustained and savage attack” the day after she announced her engagement to her partner.
Sheffield Crown Court heard although there was intention to cause “at least really serious harm”, Gethen suffers a number of personality and behaviour disorders.
His confession to manslaughter on diminished responsibility grounds rather than murder was accepted.
Michael Smith, prosecuting, said Gethen killed his mother in the living room of their home on Beever Street, Goldthorpe, Barnsley.
The teen struck several blows to his mother’s head with the bat, killing her almost instantaneously, he added.
He said Gethen, now 16, was later examined by psychiatrists who found he was suffering a number of “social, personal and mental health issues” - said to stem back to a bout of meningitis he suffered as a baby.
The court heard Gethen was born prematurely at 27 weeks and developed meningitis 15 weeks later. That “contributed to the development of a conduct disorder and learning difficulties and interfered with his personal development”, the court was told.
One psychiatrist who examined him, Professor Susan Bailey, prepared a report for the court which revealed the troubled teenager had shown difficult behaviour from an early age and had always been “unresponsive to punishment”.
She said he had displayed “sexually abusive behaviour” towards girls.
He was expelled from school because of bullying and fighting with other pupils.
His school records show “episodes of disruptive behaviour and violence on an almost daily basis,” the court heard.
Mr Smith, prosecuting, said some violence was “targeted” at specific pupils with other attacks “a reaction to a loss of control”.
The court heard that in February 2009 Gethen tried to strangle a fellow pupil with a shoelace.
And the prosecutor said although Gethen’s behaviour was already challenging, the death of his 72-year-old father Eric, who died from cancer in 2009, had a severe impact on the teenager.
Gethen was said to have been “very close” to his dad, who had a “calming influence” on him, but he started drinking, smoking and getting into more trouble when he died.
Following his father’s death Gethen landed himself at court for damaging his half-sister’s home and harassing her. He also threw a brick through a 76-year-old man’s window.
Mr Smith said: “The defendant has a number of inter-related problems which are important in themselves but when combined result in a highly abnormal 15-year-old, capable of homicide.”
He said when assessed by psychiatrists the teenager confessed to “homicidal ideas” and “unusual images of himself committing homicide”.
The teenager also told them he still hears his mother’s and father’s voices.
Mr Smith said the joint conclusion of the medics who assessed the teen was that he suffered “a complex and unusual combination of disorders which amount to an abnormality of the mind”.
The teenager will be sentenced at a date yet to be fixed.