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Man killed mother in flat fire as he attempted to take own life

36-year-old former rail worker suffered with paranoid schizophrenia and depression, Old Bailey told

11 September, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

A FORMER Network Rail employee has been detained under the Mental Health Act after he admitted killing his mother by accidentally starting a fire in their flat.

Beatrice Yankson, 59, was dragged by firefighters from her home in the Andover estate in Finsbury Park last year but she died at the scene from burns and smoke inhalation.

Joel Ellis, 36, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter last month, started the fire in a failed attempt to take his own life as he suffered with paranoid schizophrenia and depression, the Old Bailey heard.

Prosecuting barrister Simon Denison QC said: “In the days leading up to the fire Ms Yankson reported that the defendant was behaving strangely. She was afraid he was going to harm her.”

She told the police about her worries and also spoke to her sister, saying she could smell petrol in her son’s room.

Ms Yankson had worked as an adminis­trator for Imperial College London. Her neighbours have previously told the Tribune that she was a “friendly” woman who was also a big Arsenal fan.

Ellis worked part-time for Network Rail until he had a mental health breakdown in 2017.

It is possible that Ellis believed his mother was still out when he spread petrol about the house and started the fire, the court heard.

When firefighters arrived, Ellis was found “slumped in a bedroom upstairs” and Ms Yankson was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ellis was taken to hospital where he later recovered.

Judge Richard Marks handed Ellis a hospital order under the Mental Health Act without a time limit.

The judge said Ellis was suffering “very significant symptoms” of mental illness.

He has since expressed remorse about killing his mother, Mr Denison added.

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