Duncan Lewis Solicitors

Updates of Legal Affairs…

Traumatized soldier who killed his landlady cleared of murder instead convicted for murder

April 4th, 2012

A war veteran who had killed his landlady on return from Afghanistan was cleared of murder after the jury decided that he was traumatized by the war.

Aaron Wilkinson, 24, was convicted for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished resonsibility.

The court was told that Wilkinson had blown away Judith Garnett, 52, at point blank range with a shotgun when she ordered him to vacate the house they shared.

The court was told how he had become obsessed with guns after his six months in Afghanistan not having fired a single bullet and that he may have committed the crime only to see how it was like to kill someone.

The prosecution claimed Wilkinson was a cold-blooded murderer, but a jury at Bradford Crown Court decided he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as Asperger’s syndrome, and was not in control of his actions.

Mother-of-two Mrs Garnett ran a game farm and Wilkinson worked for her and lived at her home in Woodlesford, near Leeds. She had taken him in a decade earlier when he was homeless after being thrown out by his mother, and treated him like a member of the family.

The court heard Wilkinson had been in the Territorial Army since he was a teenager but was a changed man when he returned from a tour of duty in May 2010.

Mrs Garnett’s son, Andrew Garnett, 27, said that after coming back from Afghanistan he seemed really into guns, big bangs and blowing stuff to bits.

After shooting Mrs Garnett he dialled 999 and told the operator that he had done something absolutely terrible in a moment of madness.

Wilkinson could not explain why he shot Mrs Garnett and said it was as if he was in a ‘trance It sort of just went black and white and hazy at times. He said that it was like he just turned into a mad man and felt like somebody he never was.

Psychiatrists told the court his mental conditions meant Mrs Garnett’s order to move out was a ‘catastrophic’ rejection to him.

The court heard the combination of Asperger’s and PTSD left him unlikely to be able to exercise self-control.

Sentencing was adjourned for psychiatric reports to decide if Wilkinson remained a danger to the public. He was remanded in custody.