Psychotic Wembley builder slaughtered woman before stabbing her flatmate 5 times weeks after mental health discharge

Tejaswini Kontham
-Credit: (Image: Met Police / Family Handout)

A psychotic Brazilian builder who slaughtered his flatmate before knifing her roomie five times was deemed stable by mental health services in the weeks before the attack. Keven Antonio Lourenco De Morais, who was first diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia three months earlier, stabbed Tejeswini Kontham to death before turning the knife on Akhila Janagama in June last year.

The unprovoked attack at the four-bed HMO on Neeld Crescent in Wembley unfolded in minutes, as best friends Tejeswini, 27, and Akhila, now aged 29, got ready to leave for work just before 10am on June 13 2023.

Akhila, who previously spoke to MyLondon about her flatmate's last moments, knew something was wrong when she heard a large sound coming from the shared kitchen.

To her horror, she found Teju, as she was known by her family, laying on the floor with 24-year-old De Morais standing over her. At Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday (May 30), prosecutor Bill Emlyn Jones KC said Akhila had not initially appreciated her friend had been stabbed, until the De Morais, who came to the UK in 2020, turned towards her holding a knife and chased her back to her room.

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Akhila Janagama survived the attack but still suffers from pain a year later -Credit:Supplied
Akhila Janagama survived the attack but still suffers from pain a year later -Credit:Supplied

In the doorway to the shared room, De Morais stabbed her repeatedly, and as Akhila recalled 'forcefully', piercing her arm pit, upper body, and leg. As Akhila cried out, she could also hear Teju screaming from the kitchen floor. Managing to retreat into her room to barricade the door, Akhila then called police while De Morais could be heard going back to the kitchen.

Emergency services raced to the flat, but were sadly unable to save Teju from 'grave' injuries, including an 11cm stab wound to the chest which penetrated her heart, lung, and oesophagus. A post-mortem also found defensive wounds the back of her wrist, where as Mr Emlyn Jones suggested, it appeared she had raised her arms to stop the repeated knife blows.

Meanwhile, Akhila was rushed to St Mary's Hospital where she underwent surgery for five separate stab wounds, but survived the attack. At Thursday's hearing, the Masters student revealed she still suffers pain from the nerve damage as she recalled the terrifying final moments of her friend, who she had bonded with over their shared background from Hyderabad in southern India.

Teju had completed a post-graduate Computer Science course at the University of Greenwich, before moving from East London to Wembley to be closer to her waitressing job where she had become a team leader. She had shared a room with Akhila for three months, during which time there were no issues with their neighbour De Morais.

"I still have permanent marks on my body which remind me of the incident every day," said Akhila, "I still can't believe how my life was turned into darkness in such a short space of time... I think about it every day, if there was anything I could have done differently to save my friend Teju."

Akhila also said she remains 'scared and frightened' every day, that she is 'triggered' into sweats by loud noises, and she no longer enjoys mornings due to the time of the attack. Both women came to the UK to support their families in India, but the attack left Teju's family without financial support and Akhila too traumatised to stay in the country, or in employment.

"I had to hear her crying and screaming, " Akhila said of the fateful morning, "I had to see her body laying on the kitchen floor covered in blood. I vividly remember him bursting into my bedroom and stabbing me multiple times. People told me I was the lucky one, but it did not feel like it at the time."

A cousin of Teju's living in London, who spoke to her the night before her death to arrange a meet-up, remembered her as 'confident' and 'generous'. The cousin revealed plans were already underway for her marriage, with some gifts already bought, and the difficulties of her parents at home in India, her dad suffering heart issues and her mum with depression.

"The senseless and sudden way in which Teju was taken from us compounded our grief. Her death is a huge loss for our family and we all miss her dearly," added the grief-stricken cousin.

'He was not totally insane'

Keven Antonio Lourenco De Morais was arrested after a manhunt -Credit:Met Police
Keven Antonio Lourenco De Morais was arrested after a manhunt -Credit:Met Police

In the minutes after the double-stabbing, De Morais fled the property and called his girlfriend, telling her 'I have killed the two Indian females'. His escape from the bloodbath prompted a manhunt which ended around eight hours later at 6.20pm when police were able to use phone data to track him down and make an arrest.

De Morais - who was described by one officer as 'distracted' with 'an intense stare' - answered no comment to most questions during his interview, but specifically denied making the phone call to his girlfriend. Akhila was able to provide a description of her attacker, telling police he was covered in paint, which matched De Morais's appearance caught on CCTV cameras in a nearby shop.

De Morais was charged with Teju's murder and the attempted murder of Akhila. On February 6 this year, De Morais pleaded guilty to Teju's manslaughter by diminished responsibility and Akhila's attempted murder. After asking a psychiatrist for a second opinion on De Morais's diagnosis, the plea was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.

At Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday, Professor Nigel Blackwood, the clinical forensic psychiatrist who assessed De Morais for the Crown, reassured Teju's family and surviving Akhila, that De Morais's illness was genuine, and not some attempt to hide behind the consequences of his actions.

Describing the case history, Prof Blackwood said De Morais had been admitted to Holybourne Hospital in Roehampton on April 14 2023. He was discharged on anti-psychotic medication on April 20, in the care of the Merton Home Treatment team, who then discharged him to his GP two days later on April 22. De Morais reported he was symptom-free and taking his medication.

His doctor at the time, Dr Sahota, believed this first episode was the result of the bereavement of his previous girlfriend, financial stress, and 'persistent' cannabis use. In his oral evidence, Prof Blackwood noted there was no evidence of cannabis or alcohol use at the time of the offences, and dismissed the idea that drugs played any part in the attack.

Explaining why De Morais may have skipped his meds, Prof Blackwood said an aspect of schizophrenia is a lack of insight into the nature of the illness or the need for treatment.

"The lack of insight is part of his psychotic illness. The fact he was not complying with the medication should not be seen as culpability," said the professor.

"I would consider he trains some responsibility, because, in my view, he was not totally insane," Professor Blackwood said. "But, I would view his retained responsibility as being at the low end of the spectrum because he was suffering acute psychosis, characterised by hallucinations, interference with thoughts, and paranoia, so that there was, in my view, a substantial impairment of ability to exact rational judgement at the time of the fatal assault and non-fatal assault."

"Had it not been for the psychosis, he would not have assaulted the women he did," added the professor, telling the court how De Morais will need life-long medication and monitoring by mental health services. Prof Blackwood recommended a Section 41 restriction order, which means they can only be released from hospital if the Secretary of State for Justice agrees.

'He expresses deep regret and shame'

Isleworth Crown Court
The case was hear at Isleworth Crown Court on Syon Lane in South West London -Credit:Humphrey Nemar/Daily Star

Defence counsel Eloise Marshall KC said De Morais had shown 'very real remorse' during their conversations, before explaining his poverty-stricken upbringing in Brazil, his broken home, his drug-addicted father, and the death of his girlfriend.

Ms Marshall said De Morais had been described by his sister as a 'loving, kind, and compassionate man' who had been 'devastated' by his mental health. De Morais's most recent girlfriend described him as 'affectionate, polite, and responsible', while sharing her sympathy for the victims and their families. An uncle said he was 'greatly saddened' by how changed De Morais appeared on a visit to see him in hospital.

"The defendant has shown genuine remorse for what he has done. Though he finds it difficult to talk about, he expresses deep regret and shame," said Ms Marshall, while revealing De Morais had tried to take his own life while in custody.

The Honorary Recorder of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Judge Martin Edmunds KC, leant his sympathy to the family members who sat in the public gallery before sentencing De Morais to a hospital order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act 1983, with a Section 41 restriction order intended to 'best protect the public from future harm'.

While Judge Edmunds recognised such crimes would usually deserve a term of imprisonment, which he concluded would have been a life sentence with a minimum of nine years, he considered the agreement among multiple doctors that a hospital order would best serve the public, providing the close medical attention needed to prevent further relapses into psychosis.

"The prospects of a relapse would be significantly increased, were he to be held in a prison setting, quite apart from the prospect of self-harm," said the judge, "I also bear in mind a S37/41 hospital order will itself impose profound restrictions on his liberty."

De Morais will be sent to River House medium secure unit at Bethlem Royal Hospital in Beckenham, also known as Bedlam.

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