A tragic shopworker was unlawfully killed when she was attacked by a psychotic ex-prisoner high on drugs, an inquest has ruled.
Cerys Yemm, 22, of Oakdale, was attacked by Matthew Williams at the Sirhowy Arms Hotel in Argoed in November 2014.
Williams, 34, had been released from prison just two weeks before carrying out the horror killing and was described by police officers as “demonic”. Williams died from a cardiac arrest after he was tasered by officers.
A jury inquest, being held in Newport, has been listening to evidence over the last three weeks.
Williams had met up with Miss Yemm several times since his release from prison and the inquest heard she went back to his hotel room with him.
But Miss Yemm, who found dead in the room, suffered 89 injuries in total when Williams set upon her – including her face and neck being cut open and bite marks on her stomach.
She was also found with bruises, grazes and other bite marks, as well as “sharp force trauma” – meaning “cutting” of the skin.
A jury ruled Cerys was unlawfully killed – and that her killer Williams died as a result of a “sudden unexpected death from a culmination of drug use and a struggle against restraint.”
Williams, who was high on drugs, was tasered four times in seven minutes by police and had 1.7 milligrams per litre of amphetamines in his blood.
Landlady Many Miles dialled 999 after hearing screams from the room and told police she believed it was a cannibal attack.
During the call, she said: “He’s shoving a screwdriver in her face. He’s actually chewing her face.
“He’s been locked in room seven. I don’t know who he’s hurting.
“There’s a lad in the room. He’s actually eating her. It’s awful. His name is Matthew Williams and he’s in Room seven.”
Williams was confronted by responding police officers, but it took four attempts with a taser before he was eventually subdued. He stopped breathing while being carried to an ambulance.
Cerys had gone back to the hotel with newly-released prisoner Williams, who had previously been diagnosed with drug-induced paranoid schizophrenia.
Despite early press reports of Williams carrying out an act of cannibalism, the inquest heard there was no evidence Williams had swallowed any of Cerys’ body parts.
Pathologist Dr Richard Jones said her medical cause of death was sharp force trauma to the head and neck, and explained she died as a result of external and internal blood loss.
The jury ruled Cerys died from sharp force trauma to the face and neck after being attacked by drugs-crazed Williams.
The jury foreman said: “In the early hours of November 6, Cerys Yemm was with a companion in his room at the Sirhowy Arms hotel when she was violently attacked and suffered fatal injuries.
“Her death was pronounced at 1.55am. Her cause of death was unlawful killing.”
Reaching a narrative verdict for Williams, the foreman said: “Matthew Williams’ medical cause of death was sudden unexpected death following a struggle against restraint including the discharge of a taser in a man with a history of illicit drug use including amphetamines and cannabis.
“In the early hours of November 6, Matthew Williams was in his room at Sirhowy Arms hotel.
“Prior to his death he took amphetamines and cannabis which led to him experiencing drug induced paranoid schizophrenia. It caused him to become violent.
“Following the arrival of police he was restrained and he resisted arrest.
“After being treated by paramedics his condition deteriorated and he was transferred to an ambulance where attempts were made to resuscitate him.
“He was pronounced dead at 2.18am.
“Our conclusion is sudden unexpected death from a culmination of drug use and a struggle against restraint.”
Speaking after the verdicts Gwent Police Assistant Chief Constable Emma Ackland paid tribute to the brave officers who had to confront the horrific scene.
She said: “The last three years has been an exceptionally difficult time for those involved and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, particularly the local community, for their support.
“I would like to again extend my sympathies to both families for their loss during this tragic time. I would also like to pay tribute to all the officers involved for the professional way they have dealt with this distressing incident.”
Miss Yemm’s family described her as “beautiful, kind and caring” and called for better management of violent offenders after they are released from prison.
In a statement, they said: “We want to pay tribute to our beautiful daughter Cerys, who was kind, caring, and could always see the best in people.
“Cerys tragically lost her life in November 2014 when Matthew Williams killed her whilst he was in a psychotic state through illegal drug abuse.
“Throughout this inquest we have been searching for the answers to our questions as to how her murder, which has so devastated our family, could take place in the heart of our community, and why the agencies responsible for protecting the public from violent offenders could not prevent this awful event from occurring.
“We will never know whether more timely intervention by the police might have saved Cerys’ life that night.”
In a statement Matthew Williams’ family described him as a “very troubled young man with significant mental health difficulties made worse by drug abuse.”
It read: “In our view, the evidence exposed very clear failings in the mental health, housing and criminal justice system.
“We regret that the jury were not given the opportunity by the coroner to express their views on these issues.
“We hope that this case will highlight the need for better mental healthcare care and lead to the effective sharing of information between state agencies and that another family will not have to go through what the families touched by this inquest have had to endure.”
They added: “We repeat our sincere condolences to Cerys’ family for the dreadful and tragic events of November 6, 2014. In participating in his inquest, we have not sought to excuse our son’s actions but have tried to understand them.”
Williams’ mother Sally Ann claimed he had been released with no help for his mental health problems and said he told her he was feeling paranoid and hearing voices.
His GP said he showed no signs of schizophrenia the week before the attack, but his school friend Rhodri Moore told the hearing that Williams “didn’t seem very well”.
The inquest also heard from police that Williams had sent letters threatening to kill others while in prison.
Williams had wanted to be housed near his father in Newport and away from his former drug-taking associates, but the council sent him to Caerphilly Council as it did not consider him to be their responsibility. Caerphilly County Borough Council then housed Williams at the Sirhowy Arms Hotel.