Judge says specialist treatment centre for mentally ill at risk of offending should be considered
A man who killed a grandfather was yesterday ordered by the Supreme Court to be detained at a psychiatric hospital in Britain.
David Grant pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Henry Santucci in May 2020 on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said as he passed sentence that Bermuda “must do better” in the treatment of offenders who suffer from mental health problems.
Mr Santucci, 60, was stabbed to death on May 16, 2020 in Pembroke.
The court heard that Grant, whom Mr Wolffe accepted suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, attacked him on Princess Street in Pembroke.
Kentisha Tweed, for the Crown, said that Mr Santucci became unsteady on his feet and fell on to the road.
She added that Grant “calmly” walked to where Mr Santucci lay flat on his face and stabbed him.
Mr Santucci was rushed to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, but was pronounced dead by doctors.
Grant, 54, from Pembroke, was later arrested.
A victim impact statement from Debrina Howe, Mr Santucci’s daughter, was read out in court by Ms Tweed.
The statement revealed how the Covid-19 pandemic compounded Ms Howe’s grief and that she felt “robbed” of her last time with her father.
Ms Howe’s statement explained how she was affected by her father’s death, which she realised had started to affect her daily life.
She said that she signed up for counselling and has since made progress.
But Ms Howe added: “I will never be able to see, touch or hear my father again.”
Ms Howe asked what was being done “as an island” to protect and treat people with mental health problems and prevent violent crimes.
A victim impact statement from Mr Santucci’s son, also Henry Santucci, highlighted that the victim’s grandchildren “will never be able to have a real relationship” with him.
Elizabeth Christopher, Grant’s lawyer, said that he had struggled with mental illness for a long time and that he received help in the area where he lived with his mother.
She added that his family had always supported him.
Grant apologised to the family of Mr Santucci.
He added: “I didn’t mean to commit this act against them.
“I would like to apologise too to my family for being an embarrassment.”
Mr Grant apologised to the court and the rest of the island “for being a menace to society”.
Mr Justice Wolffe told the court that Ms Howe “in the midst of her suffering, was able to articulate a profound insight” into the case.
He said: “She is absolutely correct that we, as a community, must do better in how we treat those who suffer with mental health challenges and who also commit offences.”
Mr Justice Wolffe said that he suspected more people like Grant could be “under the radar” but could commit serious offences at any time.
He added that a specialist centre where “this population” could be treated should be considered.
Mr Justice Wolffe said the case was “a serious matter … punctuated by the fact that the defendant has previous offences”.
He added that the most suitable course was to authorise Grant’s detention in hospital under the Mental Health Act.
The court heard that arrangements had been made with St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton, England.
Ms Howe said after Grant was sentenced: “Although justice was served today, it doesn’t bring my father back.
“Mr Grant has another opportunity to make the right choices this time around.”
She added she hoped that Grant would “take the time to reflect”.
Ms Howe, a nurse at the KEMH, said: “Oftentimes, people with mental illness tend to take on what society says about them, but in himself he needs to find peace and overcome those things.”
• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers