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By Danny Boyle, and Sophie Jamieson
7:24PM GMT 17 Mar 2016
A man beheaded his “saintly” wife and killed their pet dog after suffering a paranoid delusion that dancers on the X Factor were speaking to him and would bring him “eternal damnation”.
Timothy Allen, 40, killed his scientist wife Samantha Ho, 39, at their Cambridgeshire home as they watched an episode of the singing competition programme on the August bank holiday weekend last year.
Allen, who had long-standing psychiatric problems stemming back to a motorbike accident a decade earlier, told police that he believed the dancers were “puppets” being controlled by a puppet master who was coming to get him, Southwark Crown Court heard.
“When she asked him not to kill her, he carried on and had meant to do so”
Ms Ho made a “harrowing and upsetting” call to the police in concern after her husband tried to cut his own throat. When officers arrived, they found Allen bare chested, covered in blood and repeatedly stabbing the couple’s border collie, Cherry.
He was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act 1983 yesterday after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.
Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said the episode of the reality programme appeared to have been the “trigger” for the “extremely brutal” killing.
When arrested Allen said “I’m sorry, I didn’t know how many people it would affect.”
The couple were watching the first episode of the last series of the talent show on 29 August last year.
Forensics arrive at the scene
Forensic scientists at the scene in St Neots Photo: SWNS
Among the acts auditioning were a four-piece girl group who performed a choreographed routine, and a young male singer who appeared on stage with numerous female backing dancers.
“Asked why he had done it, he explained he had been watching people dancing on the X-Factor on the television and saw them as puppets,” Mr Jackson said.
“That account was later repeated and expounded on when he said he saw the dancers on the TV as being controlled by a puppet master.
“He said he felt really scared and they were speaking to him through the TV and that they were going to get him and Samantha.”
Allen thought the puppets were going to “cause him eternal damnation” and he believed by killing himself and Ms Ho that he would spare themselves.
He had a recurring delusion that he had committed a crime and would be “found out”.
Mr Jackson added: “He resolved to kill her and himself in order to free them from what his disordered mind perceived.”
“When she asked him not to kill her, he carried on and had meant to do so,” he said.
The day before Ms Ho’s death, Allen had been referred to a psychiatrist.
Appearing via video link from Wymondham police station, the court heard Allen lived with Ms Ho, who worked for bio-science firm Asterand, in St Neots, Cambridgeshire.
The couple, who met in 1995 at Nottingham Trent University where they both studied sciences, had lived a happy life together up until Allen was involved in a serious motorbike accident in 2004.
After the accident, Allen began to struggle with paranoid schizophrenia, delusions and depression. [There is a very good chance that these problems were the result of medications prescribed to Mr. Allen after the accident, although the news articles make no mention of this, as if physical injuries alone might cause serious psychiatric problems. – SSRI Ed]
But the couple went on to marry in 2010 and, other than a brief separation in 2014, they stayed together.
Peter Doyle QC, defending, said Ms Ho was “saintly”, a “caring, loving and supportive partner” who had “never faltered” in her care for her husband.
The judge, Mrs Justice McGowan, said Allen presented a risk to the public and should not be released from a secure hospital until the Secretary of State deems him not to be a risk.
She said: “This was a terrible offence. You killed the woman that you loved and who I’m completely satisfied also loved you with a selfless commitment.”
Noting his “severe and chronic mental illness”, the judge added: “This is one of the sadder cases that this court has had to deal with.”
Police were called to Curlew Place in St Neots
Speaking outside court, Ms Ho’s brother Derek said: “Samantha was a well-loved, well-respected and hard-working young lady, she was kind, smiling and always happy.
“We have put our faith in the justice system to make amends for these crimes, but despite the outcome of today’s sentence, words can never truly express our feelings and the impact of this tragedy.”
He described his sister as “an incredible human being”, saying: “We were all so very proud of her accomplishments in her very short life.
“She inspired those around her to live life fully, even in the simple pleasures – she lived generously, loved deeply and lived life in the moment. We will never forget Samantha”.
Ms Ho, whose family come from Hong Kong, grew up in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, where neighbours recalled her working as a teenager in the Chinese takeaway her parents owned.
A statement from Ms Ho’s family said: “We have put our faith in the justice system to make amends for this crime and we welcome today’s result. However, no sentence can bring Samantha back.
“Samantha was a well-loved, well respected, kind-hearted young lady.
“She had a bright future ahead of her with lots of aspirations. She wanted to be a great scientist, have time to travel the world, realise her dreams and spend more time with family.
“However, on that fateful day, August 29, 2015, Samantha was tragically taken away from us. That day was a day where a part of us died.”
Detective Superintendent Richard Wall, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire major crime unit, added: “This is a tragic case where a woman lost her life and families have been torn apart.
“Nothing will bring Samantha back but I hope today’s sentencing, and the conclusion of legal proceedings, will provide some comfort for Samantha’s family.
“Our deepest sympathies are with them and her friends at this difficult time.”