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Samantha (left) and Sarah Mills-Westley (right), daughters of beheaded grandmother Jennifer Mills-Westley, outside the Provincial Court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday February 18, 2013.
By Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Saturday, February 23, 2013
For the last five days they have had to listen to heartbreaking testimonies regarding the horrific death of their beloved mother.
However, the family of a former Norfolk woman, beheaded in a frenzied knife attack on the holiday island of Tenerife, were yesterday given some closure as her killer was found guilty of murder.
Homeless Bulgarian drug addict Deyan Deyanov, 29, was convicted by a jury of nine at the Provincial Court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
He repeatedly stabbed and beheaded former Hellesdon woman Jennifer Mills-Westley, who had been shopping in the popular resort of Los Cristianos on May 13, 2011.
Deyanov had denied murder. His defence had argued he was not criminally responsible for his actions because he suffers acute paranoid schizophrenia.
He faces a sentence of 15 to 20 years in a psychiatric unit when the term is set in the next few weeks.
Several of the former Norfolk County Council worker’s family attended the four-day trial, which began on Monday.
Following the verdict they called for “lessons to be learned from the tragic event to ensure no other family has to go through the same ordeal”.
They told how the 60-year-old was a woman “with so much love in her heart” but happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
Her youngest daughter Samantha Mills-Westley, 39, who lives in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France, wore sunglasses and cried before going into court.
Joining her were her sister Sarah Mills-Westley, 43, from Norwich, her partner Brian Moore, 41, the victim’s brother John Smith, 63, and sister-in-law, Julie Smith, 62.
Mrs Mills-Westley, a retired road safety worker originally from Norwich, was attacked while she was in a Chinese-owned general store near the beach.
That morning, Deyanov had walked into another shop and asked for a knife “this big” because he was going to kill someone.
At 10.30am he went into the Mas Articulos Mejor Precios shop on Avenida Juan Carlos I, picked up a 22cm-long knife and plunged it repeatedly into Mrs Mills-Westley’s neck.
He then walked out carrying her head, to the horror of onlookers, before being wrestled to the ground and arrested.
Living rough in Los Cristianos, the crack cocaine and LSD user was well-known to police on the island and had been arrested at least four times since January 2011 for violent offences.
A warrant for his arrest had been issued just three days before the killing but officers were unable to locate him.
He had previously been sectioned in the summer of 2010 under the Mental Health Act in Glan Clwyd Hospital, North Wales, and again at Tenerife’s La Candelaria hospital before being bailed in early February 2011.
The jury found that Deyanov was guilty of murder because he took his victim by surprise and she could not defend herself.
Even though he was suffering schizophrenia and his responsibility was diminished, in Spanish law he is guilty of murder.
Wearing an olive green hoodie, black tracksuit trousers and running shoes, Deyanov remained quiet and still as the verdict was read out.
Asked by magistrate Maria Jesus Garcia Sanchez if he had anything he wanted to say, he told his Bulgarian interpreter: “I am the second reincarnation of Jesus Christ and I will bring the fire of the Holy Spirit to bear against this court.”
Prosecutor Angel Garcia Rodriguez asked for the maximum sentence of 20 years in a secure psychiatric ward to be imposed.
Francisco Beltran, for the defence, asked that his client receive the minimum sentence of 15 years.
Mrs Mills-Westley’s relatives remained calm as the verdict was read out.