Case: Mortlake pub stabbing: James Fiennes
Victim
Name:
James Fiennes
Gender:
Male
Date:
2014-04-22
Nationality:
British
Weapon:
Knife
Killer
Case unsolved
Status: Solved
Categories: Mental Illness
Case synopsis:

Businessman James Fiennes, 49, was stabbed to death at a tapas bar in Mortlake on 22 April 2014.

Mr Fiennes was attacked with a pair of scissors at the Tapestry public house on Lower Richmond Road at around 8.50pm.

The father-of-two died in hospital at around 2.20am the next morning, 23 April. A postmortem revealed he suffered three stab wounds including a fatal injury to the heart.

Mr Fiennes, who lived opposite the bar, was a second cousin of explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and a distant relative of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes. He was a trained aeronautical engineer but was attempting to launch a new career in law.

Detectives arrested a 36-year-old man at the scene. Nicholas Hunter, 36 [1/6/77], of Rodenhurst Road, Clapham, was charged with murder on 23 April.

He was due to stand trial at the Old Bailey on 16 March 2015 but on that day pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The plea was accepted after three psychiatrists accepted he was suffering from schizo-affective disorder at the time of the killing.

The court heard there was a history of mental illness in Hunter's family and he had been prescribed antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs in 2011.

Family members noticed his deteriorating mental health in the weeks before the attack. On 22 April Hunter met his boss Thomas Olsen for a drink at the tapas bar and said: 'I am going to have a sex change'. He also announced that the world was going to end at midnight.

Hunter then noticed Mr Fiennes and called out: 'Hi James' - even though the two men were strangers. When Mr Fiennes walked over to politely ask how they knew each other, Hunter threatened to kill him before repeatedly stabbing him with a pair of scissors he had bought in Sainsbury's earlier that day.

Mr Fiennes, together with staff and customers including a retired police officer, restrained Hunter before collapsing and falling unconscious due to his injuries.

Hunter later told police and psychiatrists that he went 'berserk' and suffered 'a complete explosion in my mind.' Hunter, a Scot from Uddingston in Lanarkshire, also claimed that he heard voices telling him he was a 'Glasgow hardman.'

Hunter was detained indefinitely under sections 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act by judge Gerald Gordon.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Ashwin from the Homicide & Major Crime Command said:

"This was a completely unprovoked assault on Mr Fiennes who was in London on business and was on his own working on his laptop in the pub before he was attacked and killed by Hunter.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family at this very difficult time."

In a victim impact statement, Mr Fiennes' wife Caroline said: 'The day I met James I knew I would marry him. I lived him then, I love him now and I will love him forever.

'He was my best friend, my soulmate, my rock or oak tree. Everything a good husband could be, James was.

'He was kind, considerate, funny, gentle, spiritual and intelligent. Above all he was loving.

'Everyone and anyone who knew James described him as a gentleman in every sense of the world.'

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