CHESTERFIELD MURDER TRIAL: Guitar killer with mental health issues modelled himself on actor Johnny Depp

A man accused of murdering a pensioner by hitting him around the head with a guitar had reportedly developed personality disorders and had become fixated with modelling himself on Hollywood movie star Johnny Depp.

Friday, 18th May 2018, 1:58 pm
Updated Friday, 18th May 2018, 2:01 pm
Featured is a portrait of actor Johnny Depp in his most famous role as Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Nottingham Crown Court heard during an on-going trial this week how Jason Knowland, 46, admits committing manslaughter but denies intending to kill retired newsagent Peter Matts after an altercation at The Beechers Brook pub, on High Street, in Staveley, on June 21, last year.

Defence barrister Christopher Tehrani said there had been witness accounts of Knowland being argumentative and of him accusing people of staring at him before he struck the 69-year-old in the face with his guitar about 6.30pm.

Consultant forensic psychologist Dr Ruth Tully told the court she had diagnosed Knowland after the attack with personality disorders including a paranoid disorder, an emotional and unstable disorder, a borderline emotional disorder, and a histrionic disorder.

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Beechers Brook pub, Staveley. Picture: Google

She said: “In my opinion I see traits of these disorders playing out in the lead-up to this offence.”

Defence barrister Christopher Tehrani, who has argued Knowland was suffering with an abnormality of mental function at the time of the attack, mentioned to Dr Tully that artist and burial headstone designer Knowland had thought he looked like Johnny Depp and Dr Tully agreed this was part of a personality disorder.

Knowland’s former employer Les Hopkinson, of Hopkinson Memorials, in Staveley, stated Knowland had started to model himself on actor Johnny Depp and that people had mentioned how much he looked like the movie star who plays Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.

Mr Hopkinson added that former stone mason Knowland even tried to adopt the lifestyle of Johnny Depp and he had changed his persona.

Movie star Johnny Depp is among the world's most famous actors to be featured in paving on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Dr Tully said that those with histrionic personalty disorder can be anxious about being ignored and can have an overwhelming urge to be noticed and they want to be the centre of attention while being self centred but constantly seeking reassurance.

She said: “Someone who desires attention and craves it might dress as Johnny Depp to get it but its distressing when they get negative attention or assume they are getting negative attention.”

Dr Tully added Knowland also felt he should have gone to university and should have been employed by Disney-Pixar because he felt he was such a good artist.

She said that Knowland had a history of self-harming, has had an interest in conspiracy theories and he has had grudges borne out by what was described in court as his “kill list” of people he thought had wronged him.

Pictured is Nottingham Crown Court.

Dr Tully told the court Knowland’s unusual behaviour at the pub which had included accounts of him being argumentative and accusing people of staring at him appeared to be traits of his disorders.

She said that given the evidence a diagnosis of his personality disorders would have applied before, during and after the incident affecting his decision-making and self-control.

Dr Tully added that traits of a paranoid personality disorder included feeling suspicious or paranoid and mistrustful of people.

Those with emotional and unstable personality disorders, according to Dr Tully, can have a leaning towards anger and violence and those with emotional personality disorder can have problems with self identity and can struggle with relationships.

Dr Tully added: “It is reported that in the background there were histrionic behaviours with him dressing as Johnny Depp and he felt people were looking at him and he dealt with this by consuming alcohol which is a coping strategy.”

Knowland told police he had been drinking beer during the day and he had taken co-codamol and medication for anxiety and depression when he went to collect his guitar from the pub after it had been left by a friend but he could not remember the attack which was captured on CCTV.

Mr Matts was taken to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital by ambulance with serious life threatening injuries and he was pronounced dead at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital on June 28.

Knowland claimed to police in an interview he remembers going to collect the guitar and speaking to a woman and a man but he could not recall what else happened in the pub.

He added that the next thing he remembered was being on the ground with a foot on his throat outside the pub. He also claimed to police he has suffered from black-outs.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Ramneesh Puri also told the court divorced Knowland felt he had suffered from a difficult up-bringing, had struggled to stick with jobs and careers and he had shown difficulties maintaining relationships.

Dr Puri added that Knowland had become alcohol dependent to deal with life and he had been taking anti-depressants for many years.

Knowland, of High Street, Staveley, has denied intending to kill Mr Matts and has subsequently pleaded not guilty to murder but he has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of suffering an abnormality of mental function.

The trial continues.