Crazed cult follower caged after frenzied attack — (the Tottenham Independent)

SSRI Ed note: Student, 25, recently treated for mental illness, on A/D, murders boyfriend and grandmother during psychotic episode. Schizophrenia blamed.

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The Tottenham Independent

27 Sep 2004

[Antidepaware notes that the inquest revealed that Ms Davis was taking antidepressants, perhaps intermittantly, at the time of the murder]

Phiona Davis, 25, of Green Lanes, was a devotee of the controversial Kabbalah sect, which counts Madonna, Britney Spears and Demi Moore, among its followers.

The fashion student stabbed lover Keith Fernandez 58 times and knifed her 81-year-old great grandmother Mary Skerritt 130 times, the Old Bailey heard.

She was a regular worshipper at the London branch of the Kabbalah Centre, in Stratford Place, Mayfair, set up with a £3.65 million grant from Madonna.

The court heard neighbours reported a man screaming at Davis’ home on October 12 last year. They broke down the door to find her astride her lover’s body, repeatedly stabbing him in the face.

Davis warned ‘Don’t come any closer. I’m going to do it.’ Mr Fernandez, of Seven Kings, managed to stagger out of the flat, but he collapsed and died.

One witness said: “Her eyes were glazed and evil looking and she had an evil look on her face.”

Davis shouted: “God done good, for this is done through God.”

Davis managed to evade capture and the next day she attacked her great-grandmother, Mary Skerritt, at her home in Spencer Grove, Stoke Newington.

Neighbours called the fire brigade after seeing smoke billowing from the windows. They found Davis outside screaming: “I am God, I am the benevolent one, burn the demons and burn her.”

The court heard she held out her hands ‘like Jesus’ and tried to stop the firefighters entering the flat, shouting, ‘only God can judge me in the heavens.’ Mrs Skerritt was found lying in a pool of blood in the hallway. Crucifixes and the woman’s jewellery had been laid out on the floor and a palm cross was left by the front door.

Davis had set four fires in the house and all the gas rings were on.

As she was taken away, she screamed: “You can arrest me, but you can’t punish me. Only God can punish me.”

Later, at Stoke Newington police station, she attempted to strangle herself and smeared crosses on the wall with excrement and blood.

She shouted at police “I am the messiah and the king of kings. I will forgive you all.”

Davis was sent to Broadmoor hospital on Tuesday, after an eminent psychiatrist described her as one of the ‘illest’ people he had ever seen. She was cleared of murder by reason of insanity.


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Double killer sent to Broadmoor — (BBC NEWS)

Tuesday, 14 September, 2004, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK

A 25-year-old who killed her great-grandmother and her former boyfriend was insane at the time of the deaths, the Old Bailey has heard.Phiona Davis, of Green Lanes, Palmers Green, north London, was found not guilty of murder due to insanity.

The student had told doctors she thought Keith Fernandez was a robot and her great-grandmother Mary Skerrit was the devil, the jury heard.

Both were found with multiple stab wounds in October last year.

On Tuesday, the court heard that Miss Davis had said she had attacked them because she thought “judgment day” had arrived.

Miss Davis was also found not guilty of arson by reason of insanity. She had denied all of the charges.She was given a hospital order under section 37 of the Mental Health Act with a section 41 restriction, meaning she can never be freed without permission from the Home Office.

The 25-year-old was returned to Broadmoor special hospital where she is being treated.

Judge Martin Stephens told her: “When you committed these appalling acts of violence, you were suffering from a severe schizophrenic illness.”

He said forensic psychiatrist, Professor Nigel Eastman, had called her “one of the illest people he had met in over 20 years”.

Mr Fernandez, 27, was found with 58 stab wounds and 81-year-old Mrs Skerrit was discovered with 130 stab wounds a day later, at her home in Stoke Newington, north London, after a number of fires had been started there.

David Evans QC, prosecuting, told the jury Miss Davis had stood outside Mrs Skerrit’s flat holding her hands outstretched and said “I am the Messiah”.

He said she had shown some manic behaviour in 2002 and expressed interest in the church, saying God was speaking to her.

She had become a regular worshipper at the Kabbalah Centre in early 2003.

“In April 2003, Miss Davis’s general practitioner notes that Miss Davis had been involved in prayer at church, she reported feeling controlled by the church,” Mr Evans said.

“She felt scared living alone, she was not eating or drinking properly.

“She reported feeling that people from the Kabbalah Centre were walking around her flat.”

Miss Davis had been discharged from hospital twice after her psychotic symptoms disappeared following overnight stays.

The court was told she failed to keep follow-up appointments, but had since responded to medication and was now “extraordinarily distressed by what she has done”.