Mental patient Jacob Poynton-Whiting stabbed his mother to death after asking for help

A ‘loving, caring and wonderful’ mother has been brutally stabbed to death by her own son after falling into a downward spiral of conspiracy theories and alternative narcotics.

Jacob Poynton-Whiting, 22 at the time, on June 22 last year attacked his devoted mother, Sally Poynton, 44, who had cried out for help for her son as she witnessed the first hand of his deteriorating mental health.

Poynton-Whiting appeared at Truro Crown Court to be sentenced via video link from Langdon Psychiatric Unit in Dawlish in Devon, after pleading guilty to manslaughter by mitigating responsibility and causing bodily harm serious related to an injury to his younger brother as he desperately tried to help his mother.

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The tragic episode took place at Crowlas near Penzance.

Prosecuting the case, Sean Brunton, QC, said: ‘In a sudden and inexplicable outburst, Jacob Poynton-Whiting broke into a house and stabbed his own mother to death and seriously injured his younger brother.

“Sally died almost immediately from stab wounds to her neck, stomach and leg. The attack was unprovoked, unexpected, and can only be attributed to a deterioration in Jacob’s mental health. He didn’t try to flee the scene. When he was arrested, he was silent, sometimes smiling. He has been detained at Langdon ever since.

Mr Brunton described how Sally and Poynton-Whiting’s father separated and there was a family history of a toxic relationship between the two. Despite this, Sally and her two sons remained close and happy until Poynton-Whiting’s mental health deteriorated.

Mr Brunton said: “Born in 1999, Jacob was a bright and curious child. Sally was afraid of the boys’ father, Matthew Whiting, who was violent and the boys sometimes witnessed unpleasant scenes. It was clearly traumatic for both boys and Jacob’s father gave him cannabis to smoke.

“After years of acrimony and tension the parties went their separate ways completely. Sally struck up a relationship with a retired GP and Jacob and Elijah got on well. Jacob did well in GCSEs and was happy and working hard in catering.He got on well with his family and they were reasonably happy years.

It was in 2018, when Poynton-Whiting went to study bakery and pastry at the University of Birmingham, that things started to go wrong.

It was robbed and, believing it to have been framed by a friend, Poynton-Whiting began smoking a lot of cannabis.

He began to take an interest in alternative lifestyles and seemed troubled. He became fascinated with conspiracy theories and the world of alternative narcotics and traveled to Germany and Peru to learn more.

During this time, Poynton-Whiting’s brother and mother noted that he was mentally ill and derailed.

He neglected himself, made himself unemployable, slept on the floor and was sometimes violent towards his mother.

Mr Brunton added: “Sally was loving, reasonable and kind to her son. She had just completed her second year at Falmouth University. Apart from her worries for Jacob, she was happy.

Poynton-Whiting was briefly held at Longreach psychiatric unit in Redruth, but was released without a diagnosis or a clear support plan in place. He was removed from the Mental Health Service list when he failed to respond to follow-up letters.

Mr Brunton said: “Sally fought unsuccessfully to get Jacob diagnosed and treated. He behaved in a bizarre and anti-social way, but there was no sign of what was to come.”

At 6:30 a.m. on June 22, Elijah noticed Poynton-Whiting knocking on the window, so let him in. He turned to go to the bathroom and less than a minute later he heard screaming in his mother’s room.

Sally had been stabbed, but Elijah bravely stepped in and took her brother outside, sustaining a large cut to his leg from the 21cm bladed knife held by Poynton-Whiting.

As Elijah tried to call the emergency services, he heard a bang. Poynton-Whiting forced himself in through the window, slit her mother’s throat and wrapped her in a curtain.

Police response units arrived and Poynton-Whiting was seen on the front steps of the house.

He was calm and quiet and remained silent during the interview process other than asking to use the restroom and occasionally smiling and laughing.

The court heard a series of heartbreaking statements from those close to Sally.

Father Robert Poynton described his daughter as ‘loving, caring and wonderful’ and someone who brought joy into everyday life.

He added: “She was creative and an excellent artist. She had a fascination with science. If Jacob had received treatment sooner, Sally would still be with us today. Why was it not taken seriously?

He said it was heartening that Sally received a posthumous degree from college.

Hugh Marshall, Sally’s partner, said: “She loved life but most of all she loved her sons and always went out of her way to protect them. To the end she would love them and in the end she gave his life for Jacob.

“She died doing what she always did, trying to protect her sons. Sally wouldn’t have wanted anger or revenge, she would have wanted Jacob to receive the help she so desperately sought.

Elijah said he missed his mother so much and that she was not only his mother but also a friend as they had similar interests and spent a lot of time together. He says he is petrified when he thinks about when his brother will be freed and his leg scars remind him of the bloody scene every day.

He said: “Jacob was a wonderful person and the best brother I could ask for. He was damaged by his mental health condition and abandoned by mental health services. My mother desperately asked for help but was repeatedly disappointed. I’m devastated that it took my mother’s death for Jacob to get help.

At sentencing, Judge Simon Carr said: ‘On June 22 you killed your mother and seriously injured your younger brother. You were 22 at the time and you were really, really sick.

“You were in a severe psychotic state when you went to your mother’s property armed with a large knife. Your brother let you in and then heard screaming. Showing extreme bravery, he pushed you out, but you forced your way in through a broken window. It was a short and brutal attack.

“Sally was only 44 at the time of her death and was intelligent, supportive and extremely devoted to her sons. It was obvious to her and to others that you were very ill.

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“She did everything she could to support you and despite your scary behavior she never gave up on you.”

Justice Carr added that Poynton-Whiting had now been diagnosed with schizophrenia leading to feelings of paranoia and a distorted view of society.

He went on to explain that the Poynton-Whiting section had resulted in no progress.

Poynton-Whiting was sentenced to a hospital order, which means he will remain in a secure mental institution until it is deemed safe to return to society.

Justice Carr closed the hearing by expressing his sympathy to Sally’s friends and family for the loss of someone so loved.

Devon and Cornwall Police Major Crimes Investigation Team Detective Sergeant Nige Green said: ‘Sally’s family and friends have had to endure the most tragic loss imaginable and in the saddest circumstances. I would like to thank them for their worthy assistance in the investigation and my thoughts, and those of the entire investigation team, are with them at this time.

“I believe this is the best outcome under the circumstances to allow Jacob to get the help he needs.”

About Marco C. Nichols

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