Loving mum battered to death by mentally ill son who also set dog on her

A son killed his mother while suffering from severe mental illness and his dog also joined the attack upon her.

Steven Sanderson was suffering from schizophrenia with paranoid delusions when he attacked his mum June Sanderson at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, and will now be held in a secure psychiatric hospital.

The 73-year-old mother was headbutted and punched by Sanderson, who also banged her head into a wall and tried to strangle and bite her.

During the onslaught, Sanderson's Pit Bull terrier crossbreed set upon the pensioner, savaging her arms and leaving her bleeding heavily.

Sanderson, 37, was found unfit to plead or stand trial due to his mental illness but a jury found he did the acts which led to his mum's death, following a trial.

Now a judge has ordered Sanderson must be detained in a secure hospital until he is deemed well enough to be released.

At Newcastle Crown Court, Mr Justice Goss said: "As has been said many times, this is truly a very sad case where a very mentally unwell man has caused the death of his mother.

"For some years now Steven Sanderson has been suffering from a severe mental illness diagnosed as schizophrenia with many paranoid delusions.

"Although he does not have a history of the use of significant violence, the act he committed, in this case, was a sustained act of violence on his mother which caused injuries from which she, in due course, died."

The judge said doctors who had examined Sanderson concluded his mental condition was such that it was appropriate to make him subject to a hospital order with restrictions, which are necessary for the protection of the public.

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Justice Goss said Sanderson would only be released if and when a tribunal was satisfied it was safe to do so.

In the months leading up to Mrs Sanderson's death, her son had become more threatening and aggressive and she was becoming scared of him, the court heard.

However Mrs Sanderson remained supportive of her son and visited him almost daily to help him and he relied on her for assistance with things such as finances, shopping and banking.

On Tuesday, July 30, Mrs Sanderson went to visit Sanderson at his home on Wellington Street, Blyth, just before 9.30am.

A witness who walked past the house heard a dog barking and growling aggressively and when the witness retraced her steps, having been to the shop, Mrs Sanderson came out.

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She was bleeding, visibly distressed and extremely dishevelled and her coat and handbag were ripped.

A Good Samaritan called 999 and told the call handler blood was "spurting" from Mrs Sanderson's arm.

Mrs Sanderson told the witness she had been attacked by her son, who she said had punched and kicked her and tried to strangle her. She also said he had made attempts to bite her.

She said he had a Pit Bull type terrier cross which became overly-excited during the assault and had repeatedly bitten her on her arms.

She told another witness Sanderson had "banged her head off the wall" and explained he had mental health issues.

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Mrs Sanderson was left with lacerations and puncture wounds to her arms and hands and severe bruising to her face.

Bodycam footage from a police officer shows Mrs Sanderson saying, while in hospital: "He just started shouting and the dog got up a height."

Mrs Sanderson went on to say he had grabbed her neck and punched her and tried to bite her face.

As her family frantically tried to get to the hospital, Mrs Sanderson's condition deteriorated.

She had a bleed on the brain and was taken to the RVI for surgery and never recovered. She died on August 4 last year when her life support was switched off.

A pathologist concluded she died from the bleeding on the brain resulting from multiple blunt head injuries.

The court heard Sanderson has a long history of mental illness and has been deemed unfit to enter pleas or stand trial.

He had symptoms typical of schizophrenia and paranoid delusions and a belief people could hear or discern what he was thinking. He had spent two periods in a psychiatric hospital, including in May last year.

The court heard he also had a heroin addiction and was on methadone at the time.

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