Belper grandmother killed in “savage and frenzied “ knife attack, court heard

A 70-year-old grandmother was killed in a “savage and frenzied” knife-attack at her own Belper home on the day she returned from holiday, a court heard.

Saturday, 24th January 2015, 8:39 am
Nottingham Crown Court.

Sandra Bainbridge was stabbed a total of 73 times by a severely mentally-ill woman who had broken into her cottage on Short Row while she had been away and was living there as a squatter.

The woman -- 39-year-old mother-of-two Andrea Cutler, of Derby -- was also a drug addict and was on the run from the courts and the police at the time.

When arrested by police, she said: “It was just an event that happened. I was really unlucky.”

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Cutler, who was branded “a dangerous risk to the public” by eminent psychiatrists, pleaded guilty at Nottingham Crown Court to manslaughter with diminished responsibility on Monday 9th December 2013. She had previously denied murder.

Judge Gregory Dickinson sentenced her to a hospital order with a restriction order and without time limit. This means she will be held indefinitely in a secure unit, where she will receive specialist treatment, and can only be considered for release via appeal to a mental health tribunal.

“If and when she is released, the greatest possible protection to the public must be put in place,” said Judge Dickinson.

“Sandra Bainbridge was a vibrant and lovely lady. I wish I had met her.

“She lived life to the full, and brought up three children in a loving environment. But her life was cut short in a brutal, shocking manner by someone who lived a feckless, self-centred existence, driven only by a desire for drugs.

“She was subjected to a persistent, terrible attack. The effect on her family is beyond words.

“The core part of their life has been destroyed. They have been left fearful, distressed, empty and angry.”

The court heard that Mrs Bainbridge, a retired civil servant who used to work for Derby Homes, had been to Turkey for a week with her partner, Derek Joyner. She picked up her car at Mr Joyner’s address and returned to the home where she lived alone when she was attacked by Cutler.

The court heard that the “tragic and senseless killing” of Mrs Bainbridge was caused by Cutler’s illness, known as schizo-affective psychosis.

According to Dr Philip Joseph, a London-based psychiatrist, this meant she was not only a schizophrenic but also someone whose mood was often disturbed, who would lose touch with reality and who was prone to depression.

Shaun Smith (prosecuting) told the court that she stabbed Mrs Bainbridge in the face, neck, hands and vagina using the pensioner’s own kitchen knives. Cutler then dumped the body in the backyard and covered it with a blood-stained duvet.

One of the knives was used with such force that it snapped, the court heard. One of the wounds was so deep that it penetrated Mrs Bainbridge’s skull cavity.

The body was only discovered the following night when Mr Joyner became suspicious because he was unable to get in touch with his partner.

When he went round to the house and let himself in, he was confronted by Cutler, who tried to attack him with a knife too, chasing him on to the street, said Mr Smith.

As Cutler fled and drove off in Mrs Bainbridge’s car, Mr Joyner rang the police, who soon found Mrs Bainbridge’s body.

Initially, Mr Joyner himself was detained and arrested on suspicion of murder. But he was released later the next day after Cutler was found and arrested in the Manchester area.

When interviewed, she told officers: “I think it’s a really good result that both of them haven’t gone. That there’s only one casualty. I’m lucky that Mr Joyner didn’t get murdered.”

The court was told that Cutler had a history of mental illness dating back to 1993 when she was 18 years old.

She was also a regular user of illicit drugs, such as heroin, crack cocaine, cannabis, Ecstasy and amphetamines.

She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital several times between 1994 and 2006. But after that, she began to refuse to take her medication and keep appointments, despite “great efforts” by mental-health workers.

The court also heard that Cutler was convicted of a handful of petty criminal offences, including one of slashing the car-tyres of her ex-partner, Pedro Lorente.

She made her last appearance at court only six days before the killing of Mrs Bainbridge -- when she was accused of harassing businesswoman Amelia Horne, whom she had been at school with and who now owned a bistro called Jack Rabbits in Derby city centre.

Cutler stormed out of the court before she could be dealt with, forcing magistrates to issue a warrant for her arrest.

However, the warrant could not be executed because the police couldn’t find her. She had gone back to her home in Derby, filled two rucksacks with belongings and set off to walk to Belper to avoid arrest.

Once in Belper, the court heard, she stumbled, by chance, upon the garden of Mrs Bainbridge’s empty home where she slept rough before forcing a window to get in.

Cutler lived there for almost a week, treating it as her own, even getting the landline telephone number changed and using Mrs Bainbridge’s credit cards to buy things.

However, on the evening of 9th December, Mrs Bainbridge walked back through the front door -- with fatal consequences.