Life sentence for son who murdered his mother with a chainsaw
News | Ben Barker | Published: 11:16, Tuesday November 1st, 2016.
Last updated: 16:27, Tuesday November 1st, 2016
A man who killed his mother with a chainsaw in a “tragic and senseless murder” at the home they shared in Ystrad Mynach has been jailed for life.
Robert John Owens, 47, killed 75-year-old Iris Owens on Tuesday May 3 this year, while she was hanging washing in the garden at Station House, near Ystrad Mynach railway station, and was sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday November 1.
In sentencing Owens, Judge Mrs Justice Nicole Davies said: “The offence to which you have pleaded guilty is that of murder. This was the tragic and senseless murder of a good mother by her son.
“There is only one sentence, and that is life imprisonment.”
The court had previously heard how Mrs Owens had been strangled, had ribs broken from being kicked, and sustained five separate lacerations from contact with a chainsaw.
Judge Davies said there was no suggestion that the attack had been planned, adding: “Your mother was described by those who knew her as full of life, very kind, intelligent… It was in her nature to help others.
“In recent months, you had had cared for your mother when she fractured her ankle. During this time your mother was totally dependent upon you, she spoke of how well you had looked after her.
“Only you know what took place during that late afternoon in the garden of your mother’s home and what prompted the brutal acts which led to her death.
“I accept that you are genuinely remorseful for the brutal acts which you inflicted upon your mother which led to her death. Your remorse will not end with this hearing.”
Owens’ previous court appearances, including convictions for violence and dishonesty, were referenced, but the judge added there was no history of mental disorder.
Mrs Owens volunteered for several charities, was a published author, and a bilingual tour guide at Llancaiach Fawr.
Gwent Police Detective Superintendent Ruth Price said: “Iris Owens was an inspirational person who led such an interesting life and did so much for others. She was very well respected and loved by her many friends and family and this made an impact on everyone who worked on this inquiry.
“Despite having very recently had more information from the defendant about how all Iris Owens’ injuries were caused, we still don’t know precisely what happened on 3rd May, or exactly why and that made the investigation more challenging.
“Robert Owens’ guilty plea and sentence bring the matter to an end for the team who dealt with the case and concludes the formal legal process but for Iris’ family it will not ease their sense of loss and our thoughts are with them as well as all those who knew her and will remember her kindness, energy and love for life.”
On Monday October 31, Cardiff Crown Court heard the relationship between Owens and his mother had been “close” and “supportive”, and he had moved into her home after going through a divorce in 2006.
Owens had been chopping wood in the garden of their home with a chainsaw, described by Judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies as having “excellent safety features”, at around 5pm on May 3, for their wood burner stove. However, after his mother returned from a church service, they began rowing.
Owens initially claimed that his mother had “gone berserk” and “came at me”, hitting him with chopped logs, but later told police that she had stood on a tree stump to hose water onto their summerhouse, before falling onto the chainsaw and panicking.
Prosecutor Christopher Clee QC added: “A neighbour heard the sound of someone calling out and then the sound of a chainsaw.”
Paramedics from the Welsh Ambulance Service arrived at the scene, where they found a “very agitated” Owens, who led them to the garden, where Mrs Owens was lying on her back, with blood splattered on nearby walls and the tree stump.
The prosecutor continued: “He told the paramedics: ‘My mother had gone berserk. I killed her and I’m going to jail’.”
Mr Clee also told the court that the precise sequence of events leading up to Mrs Owens’ death were unclear.
Traces of heroin and cocaine were found in the defendant’s bloodstream.
Simon Laws QC, defending Owens, said: “As to the relationship between the pair, that is the background to his remorse. It was a close and loving relationship.
“There is no attempt to minimise what he did. He is devastated by what happened in these few moments of anger when in the garden.”