A MAN who stabbed a grandmother to death in a public park was suffering from a severe psychiatric illness at the time, a murder trial jury has been told.

Cameron Davis was diagnosed with a condition which combined features of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder while in custody after his arrest.

Davis was a mental patient who had asked to be admitted to Wonford Hospital in Exeter on February 18 last year and had threatened to kill a stranger if he was released.

He killed 74-year-old Lorna England by stabbing her at least twice as she walked home from a shopping trip through a wooded area of Ludwell Valley Park in Exeter about three hours after being discharged from the emergency department of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Davis is on trial at Exeter Crown Court accused of murder and Judge Mrs Justice Stacey has told the jury the only issue in the case was whether his responsibility for the killing was diminished significantly by a recognised mental disorder that affected his rational judgment or self-control.

The hospital staff who decided not to detain him on February 18 did not diagnose a psychotic illness, found he was in control of his thoughts and actions, and was agreed with earlier diagnoses which concluded he had emotionally unstable and anti-social personality disorders.

Davis, aged 31, of Exeter Road, Exmouth, denies murder but the jury have been told he has admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. He has given evidence in which he blamed failures by the mental health services for his actions.

Defence consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Richard Pool said he had interviewed Davis at Exeter Prison over many hours in three different sessions and concluded he was suffering from a schizo affective disorder.

He said the condition combines features of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but differs from schizophrenia in that it can come and go.

He said an analysis of Davis’s psychiatric history confirmed his view and was further supported by the changing of his medication while in custody to a drug called Haloperidol which has led to a dramatic improvement in his condition.

Dr Pool said Davis’s description of hearing voices in the days before the killing and his behaviour on the day were both suggestive of schizo affective disorder. He said he did not support the earlier decision by doctors who treated Davis in 2021 that he was a malingerer.