Peter Holboll full hearing report: Mother pleaded for killer son to be taken into hospital

Peter Holboll

Peter Holboll - Credit: Archant

A paranoid schizophrenic killed his elderly mother after she repeatedly begged for him to be admitted to hospital, fearing he would harm her.

Tamara Holboll, 76, was allegedly dismissed as being “overly dramatic” by one mental health worker – two days before her son Peter stabbed her to death then torched her flat.

Holboll, 44, also asked to be admitted, saying he was hearing voices which “sometimes tell me to kill”.

But he was denied, in part because no beds were available within Camden’s mental health services run by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I).

Holboll knifed his mother and then set fire to her ground-floor flat in Lawford Road, Kentish Town, in the early hours of Friday, May 9.

A couple with a baby and two others in the flats above fled through a window and onto a roof to escape the blaze.

On Monday, Holboll pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility and arson at the Old Bailey, having previously denied murder.

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Judge Brian Barker QC made a restriction order under the Mental Health Act to keep him in hospital indefinitely.

The judge said: “This is a sad story on any view. What happened perhaps highlights how difficult it is to assess the severity of relapses and allocate the resources which are available.”

Holboll fled the flat after lighting four fires, sparking a major police manhunt, before giving himself up that evening. He walked into A&E at the Royal Free Hospital, in Pond Street, Hampstead, and told a nurse he had “hurt” his mother.

The court heard that Holboll had a long history of mental illness going back to his university days, when he became a heavy cannabis smoker. He had a “difficult” relationship with his mother, who encouraged him to stop taking his anti-psychotics because she wanted him to be treated “holistically” through homeopathy.

He was sectioned 10 times between 1994 and 2002 and at times had threatened his parents and a psychiatrist with knives.

His condition was said to have stabilised from 2003 until a relapse in 2013.

He lived in Tottenham Street, Fitzrovia, but was staying with Mrs Holboll in the months before the attack because of his deteriorating mental health.

On May 7 and 8, both he and Mrs Holboll made contact with several C&I staff members and repeatedly asked for him to be admitted.

The court heard that Holboll told one mental health worker that “I need to go to hospital because I’m not well, I think I might harm my mum”.

Mrs Holboll wept during one visit to a C&I clinic at the Peckwater Centre, Kentish Town, on Wednesday, May 7, saying she could not cope.

Yet prosecutor Edward Brown QC said: “It is clear from the notes that at times the concerns expressed by Mrs Holboll that her son may harm her were thought to be exaggerated.”