A man who beheaded a British woman in a Tenerife supermarket has denied the murder, telling a court at his trial that he committed the crime because voices in his head told him to.
Deyan Deyanov, a 29-year-old homeless Bulgarian, killed 60-year-old Jennifer Mills-Westley on May 13, 2011. The grandmother of five had been living in Tenerife after retiring from her job as on the road safety officer in Norwich in the UK.
Mills-Westley was stabbed and decapitated while out shopping in the resort of Los Cristianos.
In court, Deyanov — who only speaks Bulgarian — gave testimony and replied to questions through an interpreter.
According to The Guardian, at the time of the murder Deyanov was addicted to drugs. Specifically, crack cocaine and Lysergic acid diethylamide — otherwise known as LSD. He has also been diagnosed with acute paranoid schizophrenia.
Deyanov told the court he was, and is, plagued by voices that tell him what to do. He said they had told him he was “an angel of Jesus Christ who is going to create a new Jerusalem,” adding, “they direct how I act, sometimes they say kill, fight, hit, pray.”
After CCTV footage of his attack on Mills-Westley was played in court, Deyanov said he did not recognize himself in the video and had no memory of living in Tenerife.
When asked if he knew he was in Tenerife after transferred from a psychiatric unit in Seville on the Spanish mainland, Deyanov replied,”I have just found out.”
Previously, the Bulgarian had been sectioned the Mental Health Act and kept at Glan Clwyd hospital in Wales in Britain in 2010, but Deyanov denied this.
The jury was shown two 22cm (8.7in) knives, said to have been used in the murder, and told of the moment the attack took place.
Ángel García Rodríguez, prosecuting, said:
“The accused approached Jennifer Mills-Westley, whom he did not know and who was shopping, attacking and striking her repeatedly with a knife in her back and neck until she was completely decapitated.”
An Italian witness, Davide Balsano, told the court that he had left a hardware store to see Deyanov, “walking around with a head in his hand.” He added, “I came out of the shop and suddenly I saw him come off the curb, completely covered in blood.
Balsano testified that he,”ran up to him [Deynov] and hit him with all my strength using my motorcycle helmet and knocked him silly.”
Francisco Beltrán, for the defense, said his client was in “total disagreement” with the charge of murder against him, and that “he has committed no crime and it goes without saying that he has not committed the crime of murder.”
Beltrán asked the jury to regard his client as a homeless, “sick man” whose condition had not been diagnosed and went untreated.
The victim’s daughters — Sarah Mills-Westley, 43, and Samantha Mills-Westley, 39, — were present in court along with other members of the family.
On the stand, Sarah Mills-Westley said her mother had become increasingly worried about crime on the island. “It was nothing specific,” she said, “but she was increasingly concerned that Tenerife was not as safe as when we used to visit 30 years ago.”
Sarah told reporters her mother was as a kind, vivacious person who had brought “love and light” to her family and “would do anything for anyone.”
The prosecution is asking for Deyanov to be sentenced to 20 years in a psychiatric unit, Sky News notes.
The trial is expected to conclude on February 25, but as yet there is no date for the verdict. The proceedings have now been adjourned until Wednesday.