THE family of a failing music student who stabbed his mother and hid her body under the bed during a psychotic episode have said he should have been put on trial for murder.
Thomas Fisher was handed a life sentence at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday.
A judge ordered the 23-year-old to be treated in a psychiatric hospital after Fiona Fisher was found dead at their home in East Sussex in April.
Police found the 51-year-old former L’Occitane shop manager’s body wrapped in bed sheets under her bed in Lordswell Lane, Crowborough, after friends and family worried about not hearing from her.
Officers discovered a journal in which he described how his mother, the rest of his family, the monarchy, the judiciary and some women including “Russian girls” were responsible for “messing up his life”.
Acting amid “overwhelming anger” and encouraged by voices in his head, Fisher said he stood over his mother with a knife for at least 15 minutes while she slept on April 26 before stabbing her once in the chest, the court heard.
Fisher had not been diagnosed with any mental health disorders in medical assessments leading up to the death.
He was charged with murder and due to stand trial last month.
The prosecution decided to accept an alternative guilty plea for manslaughter by diminished responsibility after psychiatrists said they believe he has paranoid schizophrenia.
Mrs Fisher’s parents Dorothy and Alun, stepfather Les and daughter Megan said in a statement: “We would like to put on record that although the recommendation by the Crown Prosecution Service was to accept manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, it was our wish for Tom Fisher to stand trial for murder.
“Our main aim today was to get justice for Fiona. She was in the prime of her life and there was no reason why she didn’t have many happy years ahead of her.”
They said their world was “torn apart” and they will “never get over the shock of losing her in such horrific circumstances, but she will never be forgotten”.
They added: “Today should be closure on this senseless tragedy, but it will never be for her family. This is something we will have to live with for the rest of our days.”
The court heard Mrs Fisher was a loving mother but her relationship with her son broke down in 2015 after he had to give up playing guitar due to a medical condition in his fingers and returned to the UK from studying music in America.
He turned to a cocktail of drugs including “huge amounts of cannabis” and cocaine as well as alcohol and gambling, leaving his family struggling to cope with his escalating behaviour.
Fisher spent the next few years living intermittently with his mother or his father and stepmother as well as in hostels and rented accommodation while failing to hold down a job.
He was given a suspended prison sentence after twice burgling her house before her death.
Matthew Jewell QC, prosecuting, said Fisher told professionals after the killing: “She deserved it and had been bad to me for years.
“She was destroying me. She wanted me to kill myself.”
He misled his sister and friends who were worriedly trying to contact her and refused to let anyone into the house apart from police.
When they arrived, he told them he had drunk a bottle of champagne and his mother was “not OK”.
The court heard he was “arrogant and dismissive” when arrested but has since shown remorse and admitted he cried and “hugged her for hours” after the stabbing.
Dressed in a grey sweatshirt and dark trousers with a spiky haircut and copper-blond highlights, Fisher was flanked by a psychiatric nurse and a custody officer in the dock.
He sat staring ahead showing no emotion as he was sentenced while relatives and friends sat behind him in the public gallery.
Handing him a minimum two-year term before he can be considered for parole, Judge Christine Laing QC said: “It is clear you had a very troubled relationship with your mother.
“For reasons not easy to fathom, for a number of years you held her responsible for your inability to achieve success and the problems in your life yet she provided you with a loving home.”
She said he was surrounded by family who tried to do everything to support him emotionally and financially, adding: “It seems to me you were a very privileged young man.”
Describing his “bubbly” mother as someone who lived her life “as fully as possible”, she added it was “almost unbearable” to learn of the family’s devastation.
The court heard his substance abuse had exacerbated his mental health problems, having previously left a rehabilitation programme at The Priory early.
He was a reclusive child without friends or a girlfriend who identified with the troubled star Michael Jackson and clashed with his mother’s new boyfriend.
Eloise Marshall, defending, said: “He has never had a history of violence. He wants to get better.”
He was also handed one-month concurrent prison terms for fraud when using his mother’s Marks & Spencer Mastercard, driving her car without a licence and insurance and breaching a suspended sentence.
Fisher was made the subject of a hospital direction under section 45A of the Mental Health Act to receive treatment indefinitely.