Beheading: Man Guilty of Brit Gran's Murder

Beheading: Man Guilty of Brit Gran's Murder

A man has been found guilty of murdering a British grandmother who he decapitated on the Spanish island of Tenerife.

Deyan Deyanov, from Bulgaria, repeatedly stabbed 60-year-old Jennifer Mills-Westley in the neck in 2011 with a knife he had just picked up in a shop.

The homeless 29-year-old drug addict had denied murder, with his defence arguing he was not criminally responsible for his actions because he suffers from acute paranoid schizophrenia, but a jury of nine found him guilty.

After the verdict, Ms Mills-Westley's family spoke of how hard it had been to sit through the evidence but said lessons needed to be learned from what had happened.

In a joint statement, her children said: "It's hard to put into words the devastating impact that this preventable and needless act has had on us as a family - sadly mum was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"It is clear to us that there has been a catalogue of failings - unfortunately it is now left to us to piece these together as we still have so many unanswered questions.

"We would like to make a plea that the care of people like Deyan Valentinov Deyanov is taken more seriously."

Ms Mills-Westley, a retired road safety worker originally from Norwich, was attacked while she was in a shop in the popular resort of Los Cristianos on May 13, 2011.

She had retired to the island in 2006 and owned two apartments in Los Cristianos, one of which she rented out.

That morning, Deyanov had walked into another shop and asked for a "big" knife because he was going to kill someone.

At 10.30am he went into the Mas Articulos Mejor Precios shop on Avenida Juan Carlos I, picked up a 22cm-long knife and plunged it into Ms Mills-Westley's neck 14 times.

He then walked out carrying her head, to the horror of onlookers, before being wrestled to the ground and arrested.

Living rough in Los Cristianos, the crack cocaine and LSD user was well-known to police and had been arrested at least four times since January 2011 for violent offences.

A warrant for his arrest had been issued just three days before the killing but officers had been unable to locate him.

He had previously been sectioned in the summer of 2010 under the Mental Health Act in Glan Clwyd Hospital, North Wales, and again at Tenerife's La Candelaria hospital before being bailed in early February 2011.

The jury found that Deyanov was guilty of murder because he took his victim by surprise and she could not defend herself.

Even though he was suffering schizophrenia and his responsibility was diminished, in Spanish law he is guilty of murder.

Deyanov remained quiet and still as the verdict was read out.

Asked by magistrate Maria Jesus Garcia Sanchez if he had anything he wanted to say, he told his Bulgarian interpreter: "I am the the second reincarnation of Jesus Christ and I will bring the fire of the Holy Spirit to bear against this court."

Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence of 20 years in a secure psychiatric ward, while the defence asked for the minimum sentence of 15 years.

Among the relatives in court were Ms Mills-Westley's younger daughter Samantha, 39, her sister Sarah, 43, from Norwich, and her brother John Smith, 63.

In the joint statement, issued through charity Missing Abroad, her children said attending the trial had been "incredibly hard on us" and said it "has reiterated the horror of mum's death".

They said: "Since the May 13 2011, Jennifer Mills-Westley has become known as the lady who was beheaded in Tenerife.

"The truth is she was our mum, our mentor and our best friend.

"She was a highly gifted, selfless person with so much love in her heart and who has been taken away from us in her prime."