Gittisham murder trial delayed

A new date for the Gittisham murder trial will be set at Exeter Crown Court on July 31

A new date for the Gittisham murder trial will be set at Exeter Crown Court on July 31 - Credit: Archant

The trial of an Italian who is accused of murdering a woman at a farm near Honiton has been postponed because the coronavirus crisis has caused delays in obtaining expert reports.

Luigi Palmas, aged 26, was due to go on trial at Exeter Crown Court in two weeks time for the alleged murder of veterinary pharmacist Katherine Bevan at Combe Farm, Gittisham, in January.

Judge Peter Johnson vacated the trial date of July 16 and adjourned the case until July 31, when a new date will be fixed. He extended custody time limits until after the next hearing.

Adam Vaililingam, QC, defending, said Palmas is being held at Broadmoor secure hospital and there had been problems in obtaining a psychiatric report, which will not be ready in time for the original trial date.

He said extensive medical notes on Palmas have been obtained from Italy and are being translated. There have also been problems with access to Broadmoor because of the Covid 19 emergency.

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Richard Smith, QC, prosecuting, said an expert psychiatric report may also be sought on behalf of the Crown.

Palmas is charged with murdering Mrs Bevan on or before January 3 this year, and assaulting Nicholas Harris, causing actual bodily harm, in Exeter on Monday, January 20.

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He is alleged to have killed Mrs Bevan, aged 53, while he was working as a volunteer at the Arabian horses farm at Gittisham.

Her body was found in an animal enclosure at Combe Farm, on January 3 and it was initially thought she had been crushed by an animal.

Mrs Bevan was a well-known member of the local community where she worked as a pharmacist for a vet’s practice.

She had been living at Combe Farm for about a year and recently published a book about her love of cattle called Knowing Daisy.

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