In 2014 we linked to an article on Mail Online titled Bedlam behind bars. It was written by Angela Levin, and consisted of her reflections on Wormwood Scrubs, a men’s prison, over 10 years. She reported an estimate that 72 per cent of male prisoners in Britain have at least two mental disorders. At Wormwood Scrubs, the number of registered mental health prisoners regularly reached 700 a month.
It would seem that mental health disorders are no bar to incarcerating men, but what about women, including women who kill? A piece by John Reynolds in the Times of 22 May, 2015:
A young woman fell to her knees sobbing as she was cleared by a jury of murdering her friend’s violent boyfriend after a retrial ordered by the Court of Appeal.
Stacey Hyde was originally convicted at Bristol Crown Court in 2010 of killing 34-year-old Vincent Francis when she was aged 17 at the flat he shared with her friend, Holly Banwell.
Miss Hyde, now 23, from Wells, Somerset, had denied murder saying she was in fear for her life but the original jury disagreed and she was sentenced to a minimum of nine years in prison by Mr Justice Field. [J4MB emphasis]
However, in November last year, the court of appeal overturned her murder conviction and Lord Justice Laws ordered a retrial which has been held at Winchester Crown Court lasting four weeks.
Miss Hyde sobbed and wiped away tears as the judge, Mr Justice Teare, discharged her and told her she was free to leave the court.
The original trial heard that Miss Hyde, a waitress, armed herself with a 10-inch knife and stabbed Mr Francis up to 17 times.
The Bristol court was told that after stabbing Mr Francis, Miss Hyde told Ms Banwell: “I did it for you because I don’t like the way he treats you.”
Mr Justice Fields said that in sentencing Miss Hyde he had taken into consideration that the violence had been initiated by Mr Francis.
The trial heard that Miss Hyde, who had been drinking heavily that night, had gone back to Ms Banwell’s flat in Wells on September 4, 2009, after a night out.
Ms Banwell had called 999 after Mr Francis had attacked her and then Miss Hyde before the defendant then hit him back before she went and picked up a carving knife and stabbed him in the back and chest.
The jury was played the 999 call made by Ms Banwell in which she asks for help to stop Mr Francis from attacking Miss Hyde as the defendant then stabs him.
She says in the call: “My boyfriend is smashing, beating up my friend, she’s a girl and I need the police, I need the police ASAP.”
She continued: “There was a huge row and he hits me, and he started on, basically he hit me and he hit me so she hit him and now he has started on her and now they are hitting each other. I need the police.”
Ms Banwell then goes on to say: “Don’t f****** punch me, I’m on the phone to the police, don’t punch me, do you know what I mean, I’ve just got a smack in. No Stacey, put that down.”
With screaming heard in the background, she continues: “She has got a knife, she’s got a knife, she’s got a knife. She’s stabbed him. Oh my God she has stabbed him.”
The retrial has heard about Miss Hyde’s mental health with expert witnesses for the defence and prosecution disagreeing to the extent she may have suffered from a personality disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which can lead to a failure of impulse control. [J4MB emphases]
The Winchester court was also told that the defendant had difficulty coping with stressful situations and in 2009 had been sent for urgent assessment for problematic use of alcohol, [J4MB: Yet again alcohol use is treated as a mitigating circumstance for a woman, while it’s invariably treated as an aggravating circumstance for men], depression, self-harm and suicidal tendencies.
Can anyone seriously doubt that the only reason Stacey Hyde is walking free today is that she’s a woman, and the person she killed was a man? Surely she should be in a secure psychiatric facility? Am I missing something obvious here? Today’s edition of The Times reports she’s gone missing, and that Avon and Somerset police are searching for her. They are warning the public not to approach her as she could be in an agitated state. She’s also known as Anastasia Darlison, and was last seen in Taunton on Sunday.