Honiton knifeman admits Jehovah's Witness killing

PUBLISHED: 11:08 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:08 17 November 2017

Keith Beviss at Exeter Magistrates court earlier this year. Picture: Elizabeth Cook

Keith Beviss at Exeter Magistrates court earlier this year. Picture: Elizabeth Cook

Archant

Keith Beviss pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.

A man has admitted killing an electrician who was stabbed to death as he worked at a Jehovah’s Witness hall.

Keith Beviss pleaded guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court.

He killed 55-year-old Philip Ryan, who was a Jehovah’s Witness who was working on the Kingdom Hall in Dowell Street, Honiton, when he was attacked on Tuesday June 6.

Beviss, aged 54, of Woodhayes Drive, Honiton, pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter and his case was adjourned until February 9 for a further psychiatric report.

Mr Simon Laws, QC, said the plea to manslaughter has been accepted because every medical report agreed that Beviss was suffering from a mental impairment at the time of the killing.

He said:”He has been seen by a number of health case professionals. There is no doubt among anyone involved in this prosecution that this plea should be accepted.”

Mr Richard Smith, QC, said Beviss is currently being treated at the Fromeside Unit in Bristol, where a permanent bed will need to be found before a hospital order can be made.

He said all the current reports suggest a hospital order with a restriction on Beviss’s release.

Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, adjourned the case for sentence and remanded Beviss in technical custody. He also extended custody time limits, although Beviss will remain at Fromeside.

Mr Ryan, a married electrician from Westward Ho!, North Devon, was found with fatal stab wounds. He had run Ryan Alarms and Electrical Services with friend Chris Ley for 30 years after moving to Devon from Henley on Thames.

Mr Ryan’s funeral was held at the Bristol’s Jehovah’s Witness Assembly Hall in June and was attended by more than 900 people.

Business partner Mr Ley paid tribute to him as “kind, gentle and intelligent man”.

Mr Ryan’s widow Sandra issued a statement after the funeral.

She said : “I would sincerely like to thank all the friends and customers who have offered so many kind comments and practical offers of help since the tragic death of my husband Philip on June 6th.

“Our family has been deeply touched by the way that everyone has responded, even some who do not know us personally.”

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