Murder trial formally ended after Honiton accused hanged himself in jail

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court - Credit: Archant

Charles Broom hanged himself in his cell three weeks after he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 71-year-old Hilda Oakland.

The case against a Honiton man who was accused of murder has been formally discontinued after he committed suicide while in prison.

Charles Broom hanged himself in his cell three weeks after he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 71-year-old Hilda Oakland.

He admitted the offence on the basis of diminished responsibility, but was awaiting trial on the more serious charge of murder when he took his own life last month.

The issue at the trial would have been whether Broom was suffering from a mental disorder at the time when he killed Mrs Oakland on December 2 last year.


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Broom, aged 61, of Millhead Road, Honiton, had been due to face trial at Exeter Crown Court later this month, but the file was closed by Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, at a short administrative hearing.

Mr Ian Kelcey, who represented Broom until his death, told the judge that a death certificate has been served on the court and the indictment should be marked accordingly.

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He said: “Mr Broom was found dead in his cell at HMP Exeter on June 21. He was hanged. There was no-one else in the cell and no sign of a struggle. There was no suicide note.

“The body was formally identified by Detective Sergeant Sally Wootton.”

The body of Mrs Oakland was found in a 4x4 vehicle in a field off the A30 at Fenny Bridges near Honiton.

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