Son stabbed his mum to death over money - then confessed to dad on WhatsApp

Hazel Huggins
Hazel Huggins -Credit:Devon and Cornwall Police/SWNS

A son stabbed his own mother to death in a row over money - before confessing to his dad on WhatsApp, a court heard. Bradley Huggins, 25, carried out a brutal and fatal knife attack on Hazel Huggins, 53, and stabbed her 11 times after she went to help clean his flat.

The court heard after the killing, Huggins phoned police and then confessed to his father about what he had done through a series of WhatsApp messages. Huggins, who suffers from various mental health conditions, had made previous threats towards his parents, but acted that day after a dispute over money.

He pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility at an earlier hearing and was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order on Monday at Plymouth Crown Court. After the hearing, Hazel Huggins’ family paid tribute to her, with her husband Guy describing her as a woman with a "radiant spirit" and as a "bright shining light, loved by many".

The court heard that Huggins suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder, anxiety and depression. He moved out of the family home two months before the killing due to his parents' concerns about his behaviour.

Expert psychiatric reports compiled after the incident identified that Huggins had been suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the attack. On Saturday, July 29, 2023, he had asked his mum to help deep-clean his Ilbert Street flat in Plymouth, Devon, as he believed he had contracted a contagious infection.

She was dropped off around 11.30am by her husband and Bradley’s father Guy Huggins, who arranged to collect her at 4pm. That afternoon Devon and Cornwall Police received two 999 calls.

The first was made at 4.11pm by Bradley Huggins, who was talking in a low voice, swearing, and not making himself clear. Four minutes later Guy Huggins called 999 to express concern for his wife who he had been fruitlessly calling since 3.40pm. He had driven to the flat, but there was no reply.

Mr Huggins had also started to receive WhatsApp messages from his son, saying he was sorry and to call the police. While on the 999 call, he received further messages where his son talked of his mother "passing peacefully" and about him being armed with knives in "self-defence".

At the same time police had phoned Bradley Huggins following his unclear 999 call. It was then that he confessed to the killing. Armed officers forced entry to the flat, finding Mrs Huggins fatally injured.

The knife was located on a coffee table in the living room and Bradley Huggins was standing by the window with his hood up and wearing a surgical mask. He was arrested on suspicion of murder and admitted to officers that he had killed his mother.

Detectives from the Force Major Crime Investigation Team launched a murder enquiry. In police interview Huggins made a full and frank admission to his actions, saying there had been friction between him and his mother ‘over a mixture of things’.

The attack was triggered when Mrs Huggins told him he wasn’t to receive some money he felt was due to him. He became angry and turned on her, picking up the knife and attacking her in the doorway of the kitchen and then the bedroom.

A post-mortem concluded that Mrs Huggins died from 11 stab wounds to her neck, chest and abdomen. Huggins was initially charged with murder, but his plea of guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility was accepted by the court at a hearing on March 28.

Bradley Huggins
Bradley Huggins -Credit:Devon and Cornwall Police/SWNS

On behalf of the family, Mr Huggins paid tribute to his wife, saying: “Following the sentencing of Brad Huggins today, we continue to grapple with the profound loss of our beloved Hazel, my amazing wife and mother to my two sons. She was a cherished member of our extended family and a precious friend - a beacon of kindness, faith, joy, and love in our community and beyond. Hazel’s radiant spirit touched the lives of many as she lived out her Christian faith.

“Today we encountered evidence for the first time which we will need time to process as we grieve. The events of July 29, 2023, will forever be etched in our hearts as a day of unimaginable tragedy.

"The loss of Hazel has reverberated not only through our immediate family but also through our extended network of friends, neighbours, colleagues, and international faith community. The outpouring of support, both near and far, has been a source of huge comfort during this time of profound grief.

“Brad's actions were the result of severe mental illness. We find ourselves sharing a tragic bond with far too many families who have suffered similar bereavements either at the hands of mentally ill relatives, or by strangers known to have serious mental health conditions.

"Hazel fought for Brad, she loved him, and she could not have done more to help and support him. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Devon and Cornwall Police, the CPS, our police family liaison officers, Victim Support, and Join the Dots Solutions for their unwavering support and dedication throughout this ordeal.

“I don’t know how people get through events and traumas like this without a faith. In the midst of our deep sorrow, we draw strength and comfort through our Christian faith and the outpouring of prayers and support from around the world.

“Hazel’s death will never be forgotten and has impacted many people, but we choose to forgive my eldest son Brad and to advocate for him to receive the medical care and support that he desperately needs. Hazel was, and always will be, a bright shining light, loved by many. She was not only my wife, she was also my soul mate, and I miss her so, so much.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Neil Blanchard from the Major Crime Investigation Team said: “This is a terribly sad and tragic case and our thoughts remain very much with family members who have acted with grace and dignity throughout the investigation. We have worked closely with the CPS and independent mental health experts who concluded that Huggins was suffering from schizophrenia when he attacked and killed his mother. I would like to thank the investigation team for their diligence and hard work on this case and I hope today’s outcome brings a measure of peace for the family.”