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Man receives indefinite hospital order after killing neighbour

A man from Highbridge, who killed his neighbour while mentally unwell, has been handed an indefinite hospital order.

Richard Matthews was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court today (Friday 16 April) after pleading guilty at a previous hearing to one count of manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

Paul Wells, 39, was stabbed by Matthews on the afternoon of Thursday 25 June and pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Wells’ family, in a statement read out in court, described him as an ‘amazing’ man and said he is sorely missed.

They said: “(Paul had) a beautiful soul with friends all over the world. Paul was just the best – caring, so funny and very cheeky in the greatest way possible. We miss him very much.

“The loss is beyond words, Paul has an amazing family and words cannot express the pain and anguish our family and friends have endured.”

Paul Wells

The court heard that Matthews, 45, had made a number of unsubstantiated and inaccurate allegations against Mr Wells’ conduct in the months leading up to the incident. Judge William Hart said Matthews had made a ‘deluded misidentification’ of Mr Wells.

On the morning of 25 June, concerns were raised about Matthews’ wellbeing and police officers attended his home address in Edithmead Lane but received no reply. The ambulance and fire service attended a couple of hours later and made contact with Matthews before leaving the area.

At approximately 2.35pm that afternoon, a 999 call was received from Matthews saying he had killed Mr Wells and he was subsequently arrested.

Matthews has been under the care of mental health experts while remanded and pleaded guilty at a hearing back in February.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Mark Almond said: “Ultimately, this is a tragic case in which a man experiencing a psychotic episode has committed a horrendous and violent crime.

“Paul Wells was an innocent man who had his life cruelly cut short through no fault of his own; it’s clear having spoken with his friends and family how much he was loved.

“His family’s lives have been irreversibly changed by Richard Matthews’ actions. Our thoughts and sympathies continue to go out to them at this difficult time and specially trained officers continue to provide support.”