A 14-year-old boy has admitted killing his foster carer by stabbing her ten times after he was grounded.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was originally charged with murdering 34-year-old Dawn McKenzie, a former nursery worker.
However, on Friday his plea of guilty to a reduced charge of culpable homicide was accepted by the Crown on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The High Court in Glasgow heard that in the days leading up to the killing the boy had had his X-box, mobile phone and laptop taken off him. A number of psychiatrists who examined the boy said he was not able to control his behaviour at the time.
Mrs McKenzie was stabbed ten times on the head and body. The fatal blow severed a major blood vessel and caused her to bleed to death. She was also stabbed twice in the scalp and the force of one of these blows was so great that the tip of the blade broke off and embedded itself in her skull. The defensive injuries she received showed that she had fought for her life. After the boy fled Mrs McKenzie managed to dial 999 and tell police who had stabbed her.
Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, said: "The accused and her husband Bryan treated the accused as their own. They were all due to go on holiday abroad together. It would appear that there was nothing remarkable about his behaviour in the lead up to this offence."
The court heard that it was an ordinary Friday night, with Mr McKenzie and the boy driving Mrs McKenzie to the supermarket and then going for a drive before picking her up again.
Mr Prentice added: "The accused had a circle of friends and a keen interest in football and is described by his friends as quiet and likable.”
The boy, who was just 13 at the time, stabbed Mrs McKenzie at an address in Hamilton, on June 24, 2012. The court heard that it was the last day of school and instead of coming home at the agreed time he went swimming and then on to a McDonald’s restaurant with friends.
Mr Prentice said: "He did this without permission and was told that trust was an important issue. He was grounded and told he had to go to bed an hour earlier as punishment."
The laptop and phone given to him by his mother, and which he used to keep in contact with her, had been confiscated days earlier. Mr McKenzie said the boy did not seem particularly perturbed about this.
Mr McKenzie left the house about 7pm or 7.15pm and went to his brother-in-law's house to watch a film. He says there was no animosity between Mrs McKenzie and the boy or he would not have left the flat. He kissed his wife goodbye and ruffled the boy's hair as he left and said: "See you later wee man."
That was the last time he saw his wife alive. She and the boy were both sitting watching TV. At 8.06pm a 999 call was received from Mrs McKenzie who said she had been stabbed. In the 999 tape she can be heard shouting "Mum" and "Help, help," and "Mam, am I dying."
When police arrived on the scene, one officer asked Mrs McKenzie who had stabbed her. She said it was the boy. The boy was stopped by a police officer at 8.25pm on Wellhall Road in Hamilton.
The officer asked the boy: "What's wrong with you wee man, you're shaking?" and he replied: "I've just stabbed my foster carer."
He then said he had done it with a knife and told the police officer it was still in the house at Deveron Crescent, Hamilton. When interviewed by police the boy admitted stabbing Mrs McKenzie on one occasion. When he was charged with murder he said: "I only stabbed her once."
A post-mortem examination revealed that the wound to her stomach damaged the small bowel and cut through one of the main blood vessels and she died from massive loss of blood. She also suffered a number of defensive injuries to her arms and left hand.
The tip of the knife was found under the skin at the top of her head. The pathologist said that the wounds in the scalp which damaged the skull would have required considerable force, particularly the wound from which the tip of the knife was recovered. Judge Lord Pentland was shown the knife that killed Dawn and also the broken off tip.
The court heard that Mrs McKenzie trained as a nursery nurse and after spending some time in London working as a nanny returned to Scotland and married her husband Bryan in 2000. She worked as a nursery nurse after her marriage and was well-regarded in the child care field.
The court heard that the boy told one psychiatrist that he had been grounded and said the McKenzies were angry with him for coming home late without asking permission. He said they had also removed the mobile phone and laptop given to him by his natural mother so that he could keep in contact with her.
The court heard that these items were removed from the boy on the advice of the social work department. He told other psychiatrists that he had heard voices and claimed that during the knife attack he seemed to be watching himself from above.
Lord Pentland was handed victim impact statements from Mr McKenzie and his wife’s mother. The judge said: "I shall read these documents carefully before I came to impose sentence in this case."
Sentence was deferred on the boy, who was represented by QC Donald Findlay, until August for background reports and an assessment of the danger he poses to the public.
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