Appleby man jailed for seven years after violent assault on his mother

Van Diepenbrock was seen by witnesses in Appleby just after 8am. Credit: Cumbria Police

A man who carried out a violent attack on his elderly mother has been jailed for seven years.

59-year-old Sean Van Diepenbrock was seen by passers-by in Appleby on 13 January 2022 naked and shouting "call the police, I think I've killed her."

One witness was alarmed as he knew the defendant had lived with his elderly mother.

Prosecutor Tim Evans said: "The front door was ajar and several knives could be seen on the ground in the lobby of the property, one of which appeared to be blood-stained. Clothes, scarves, shoes and furniture were strewn about the floor and as an officer gained entry he could see broken chairs, pieces of wood and broken crockery.”

Van Diepenbrock’s mother was lying on the floor behind a sofa in her night clothes, and was rolled on to her side by one witness.

He noticed lots of blood on her left ear and a large bump above her eyebrow with a lot of blood on her hair, forehead, eye and cheek,” said the prosecutor. “She was initially unresponsive but then was able to groan that her head and hip hurt. But it was apparent that she did not know where she was or what had happened.”

She suffered a brain injury, multiple fractures to her jaw and body, and numerous lacerations and abrasions. A surgeon stated the majority of injuries would have been caused by significant blunt force trauma, possibly inflicted by broken parts of a table at the scene. The surgeon couldn’t exclude a knife being used.

A police officer saw Van Diepenbrock, who stated: “I have battered my mother. I’ve beat her up.”

His mother spoke of struggling at home in the aftermath, of requiring walking aids and having to sleep downstairs due to the pelvic injuries. She had since moved to another area but wants to have future contact with him.

Van Diepenbrock admitted causing his mother grievous bodily harm with intent. The court heard of him harbouring a simmering resentment towards her beforehand and that ingestion of a psychoactive substance, combined with cannabis use, could have provoked an acute psychotic reaction.

Judge Ian Unsworth KC concluded that he should be classed as a dangerous offender. Judge Unsworth heard the offending was out of character for a defendant who had shown remorse in the aftermath.

The judge said: "You launched a wholly unprovoked attack in which a weapon or weapons were used against your vulnerable mother in her own home."

Van Diepenbrock must serve two-thirds of his seven-year prison sentence before being considered for release, and then an extended three-year licence period.

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