'A beautiful soul' - Tributes to man killed by neighbour while mentally ill

Paul Wells was stabbed by his neighbour during a psychotic episode in June 2020. Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

A man from Somerset has received an indefinite hospital order after killing his neighbour while mentally unwell.

Richard Matthews, 45, from Edithmead near Highbridge, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court today, Friday 16 April, after pleading guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility.

The victim, Paul Wells, was stabbed to death by Matthews in June 2020. The 39-year-old’s family read out a statement in court in which he was described as an 'amazing' man.

They said: "[Paul had] a beautiful soul with friends all over the world. Paul was just the best – caring, so funny and very cheeky in the greatest way possible. We miss him very much.

"The loss is beyond words, Paul has an amazing family and words cannot express the pain and anguish our family and friends have endured."

The court heard that Matthews had made a number of unsubstantiated and inaccurate allegations against Mr Wells’ conduct in the months leading up to his death.

Concerns were raised about Matthews’ well-being and police officers attended his home address in Edithmead Lane on 25 June 2020 but received no reply.

The ambulance and fire service attended a couple of hours later and made contact with Matthews before leaving the area.

At approximately 2.35pm that afternoon, a 999 call was received from Matthews saying he had killed Mr Wells and he was subsequently arrested.

Forensic teams in the garden of the house in Edithmead Lane after the death of Paul Wells. Credit: ITV West Country

Matthews has been under the care of mental health experts while on remand. He pleaded guilty at a hearing in February 2021.

The Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Almond said: "Ultimately, this is a tragic case in which a man experiencing a psychotic episode has committed a horrendous and violent crime.

"Paul Wells was an innocent man who had his life cruelly cut short through no fault of his own; it’s clear having spoken with his friends and family how much he was loved.

"His family’s lives have been irreversibly changed by Richard Matthews’ actions. Our thoughts and sympathies continue to go out to them at this difficult time and specially trained officers continue to provide support."

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