Former teacher who killed his mother detained indefinitely

Paranoid schizophrenic Matthew Clarke killed his mother and dismembered her body in their Bedford home

A former teacher who killed his mother and dismembered her body was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act on Monday, March 30.

Paranoid schizophrenic Matthew Clarke, 29, who had been seen five times by mental health experts, hid his mother Marvaleen Lee's body parts in an outbuilding at their home.

Luton Crown Court heard that school kitchen manager Mrs Lee, 50, died from a stab wound to the neck which was inflicted by her son, who was to claim she was not his real mother.

After dismembering the body, Clarke cleaned the house and hid while family and the police searched for him and his mother.

Luton Crown Court heard that her body was found in the shed at their home in Herbrand Road, Bedford while officers were questioning him.

Clarke denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility between July 15 and 17, 2007. He appeared in the dock at Luton Crown Court with four mental health workers.

Prosecutor William Coker QC said: "It is the Crown's view that it would be appropriate to accept that plea.

"All the doctors' opinions in this case point one way - that he was suffering an abnormality of the mind which substantially impaired his responsibility in doing the killing.

"It is obviously a case of considerable concern, particularly because of the circumstances of the killing and there is evidence from January 2003 that he was displaying symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia."

Clarke was seen by mental health experts on five occasions from 2003, but declined help. In 16 August 2006 it was concluded there was no active illness but he has suffered from a psychiatric illness in the past, said Mr Coker.

He Clarke lost his job in November 2005 at Hastingsbury Upper School in Kempston, Beds, after being accused of gross misconduct.

Clarke, who had a daughter but had split up from his girlfriend, returned to live with his mother and showed signs of serious mental illness.

Mr Coker said: "He was obsessed with privacy and said he had an alter ego.

"He put insulating tape on his finger and body so people who touched him would not give him an electric shock. He played ultra violent video games and said his mother was not his real mother."

By the summer of 2007 his condition at home had deteriorated that his older brother Gary made sure he was on hand. On one occasion Mrs Lee ran along the pavement in her bare feet and told a neighbour "Matthew was after her" and said Matthew ought to be "sectioned".

On the night she was killed neighbours heard what they thought was another argument.

Mr Coker said: "He dismembered her body and removed her remains to an outbuilding and made every effort to clean up the scene afterwards." He bought white spirit to clean the house.

He was later to tell the police he had attacked his mother in the bathroom as she made her way to bed.

When Gary, a cousin and his uncle went to the house the next day it was spotless, but Mrs Lee was nowhere to be seen. Matthew Clarke hid in the house and was found the next morning by Gary who had stayed the night.

While he was interviewed at the police station her remains were found in the outbuilding. It was noted he had blood on his feet. "He told them it had come from the scene of the crime - the bathroom."

Clarke told the officers he did not accept the woman he killed was his mother saying: "I don't want to go into human cloning. I think it was an imposter to be honest."

The court was told Mrs Lee had come to Bedford in 1965 from Jamaica and had been devoted to her three sons. "She was hard-working, homely and for many years was the sole provider for her children."

Her oldest son Gary qualified as a solicitor. Matthew qualified as a teacher and the youngest son Thomas was an undergraduate at Lincoln University.

Defence barrister John Coffey QC said: "It is clear he gave way to the pressures of his illness which led to tragic consequences. The loss is and still is devastating."

Judge John Bevan QC ordered Clarke to be detained indefinitely under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act at Rampton Secure Hospital.

He said: "Sometime around 15 to 17 July two years ago you perpetuated an appalling act of wickedness while you were seriously ill against your mother who devoted her whole life to helping her three children."

In a statement issued through Beds Police, Mrs Lee's family said: "The feelings of devastation are intensified by knowing that she was killed by one of our own. If it is difficult to find the words to explain how we really feel.

"Marvaleen was a wonderful person. She was much loved, devoted, very proud mother and grandmother. In all her 50 years she has loved, looked after and cared for us all and our children and we all miss her terribly.

"Her death and knowing the circumstances in which she died have at times been unbearable. We will never understand why this has happened to Marvaleen. Our questions will never be answered. We did not know or understand the extent of Matthew's illness and wish we could have done something to prevent what happened."

Ann Parish, head teacher of Shackleton Lower School in Bedford, said at the time: "We are heart-broken at the tragic loss of someone who was very loved and very special to everyone she worked with.

"During her three years at the school Marveleen had become extremely popular and an immensely valuable member of our team."

Statement from Beds Police

Statement from Mrs Lee's family