The thought of ourselves or a loved one being a victim of violence is one of our as a society’s greatest fears. Perhaps the pinnacle of that fear is to be the victim of stranger violence. Thankfully stranger attacks especially homicide is rare, and in the most part the perpetrator is known to the victim in some capacity partner, ex-partner etc. etc. Most of us were educated as children about the dangers of strangers and were forced to watch disturbing educational videos at school along with adverts on television advising never to talk to strangers, don’t get into a strangers car and don’t accept gifts from strangers. Now as adults we educate our children about strangers they might encounter in person and also on the Internet.
This edition of the blog tells such a story of seemingly random acts of violence towards total strangers. The victims in this story were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. What type of monstrous human being could do such a thing? Who can attack at random unprovoked and without warning?
There are many famous cases of individuals are, thankfully, serving lengthy prison sentences or have died, monsters such as Peter Sutcliffe, Steve Wright, Levi Bellfield, Christopher Halliwell and Robert Black targeted strangers seemingly at random but frequently following a particular pattern such as targeting prostitutes, women walking alone at night or in Black’s case adolescent girls.
The case I am bringing to you today involves a series of random, unfamiliar, stranger attacks on unsuspecting victims.
What is important to stress is this story is in no way looking to draw any general assumptions regarding people with mental health issues being dangerous to other people as that is not true. In fact, a person who has a mental illness is more likely to harm themselves then they are anyone else. So when a person who is unwell does something so heinous and atrocious to another human being, it is shocking and, quite rightly investigated by multiple agencies including the health service for what, if anything has gone wrong. Also, what lessons can be learnt and indeed, in this case, the question needed to be asked, was this incident or incidents avoidable if better practices were implemented.
Tricky question as even though the men and women who work for the NHS perform miracles every day they do not mind readers and can not predict what an individual’s intentions are. I’m sure we could have a debate about how the mental health service has had its funding cut so severely that it’s almost inevitable that cracks will appear but this is not a political blog it’s a real crime blog so will save that for question time or any other political debate show.
This is the chilling case of Daniel Gonzales also known as the Mothers boy killer and the Freddy Kruger killer.
Daniel Gonzales was born on the 21st of e 1980 to his English Mother Lesley and Spanish father Julian at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey.
Daniel was an only child and lived in Woking where he attended nursery and then primary school. In 1986 Daniel’s parents separated, and it was decided that Daniel would stay with his mother but would have regular contact with his father which he did throughout childhood and as an adult.
Daniel attended secondary school at Gordon’s school in Woking. Daniel was causing concerns with his school work, and as a result, he was assessed by an educational psychologist and found that Daniel was suffering from a learning difficulty called Dysgraphia which affected Daniels ability to write. It was also discovered that Daniel had an above average IQ.
Daniel excelled in Spanish and even took his GCSE a year early and obtained an A grade. Daniel frequently visited Spain for family holidays but ever lived there.
Daniel’s final year at secondary school was disruptive, and Daniel was expelled in 1995 because of his behaviour which included drawing offensive cartoons on textbooks and putting drawing pins on a chair. Daniel was allowed back to sit his GCSE exams, and he did great obtaining seven GCSEs at grades from A* to C. That September Daniel decided to continue with his education and attended Brocklands College in Weybridge where he studied Spanish and Drama for A levels. Daniel was a keen actor and even joined the Surrey youth theatre. Also, this is when Daniel began to take drugs mostly Cannabis, and by 1996 Daniel had dropped out of college and came to the attention of police.
Daniel received a Police caution following an altercation with a bus driver. There was a dispute over a fare and Daniel physically assaulted the bus driver. There are contradicting reports of what Daniel did as some reports say Daniel punched him, but it was recorded that Daniel bit the driver’s ear.
In November of 1996, Daniel’s mother was concerned about her son’s mental health and spoke to their families GP. The GP referred Daniel to a children’s centre where he was assessed by a social work practitioner who referred Daniel to a unit that dealt with drug users.
Daniel’s mother found Daniel his first job in 1997 at a local bank. Daniel stuck in the position for just a few days, and by April that year, Daniel was in trouble with police again this time for shoplifting.
Daniels Mother, Lesley was at her wit’s end and was struggling to cope with her son’s behaviour. Lesley decided to contact social services to find a foster placement for Daniel. This would have been a difficult decision but would have felt that Daniel would get better support from a foster family. Social services were able to find Daniel a family to live with called Mr and Mrs Sloane. Daniel lived with the Sloane’s for just over a year but, despite living in a new home with a family who was perhaps able to cope with Daniels behaviour better, Daniel was frequently in trouble with the Police, mostly for theft and criminal damage such as breaking windows.
Despite living with foster parents, Daniel still had contact with his mother and planned to go on holiday with his mother and grandmother to Canada. Just before they left Daniel was placed on two-year probation and ordered to attend drug counselling. Daniel was still able to go on the holiday but, while in Canada Daniel’s mother said that Daniel was acting paranoid and didn’t have any access to street drugs while he was over there. Mr and Mrs Sloane echoed this when they wrote to drug and alcohol consultants advising that Daniel thought the TV was talking to him and that people were talking about him.
Daniel attempted to live a healthy life with the support of both his parents and foster parents and, while on probation Daniel did attend college again, but it didn’t last long, neither did his employment at a Blockbuster video shop which he stayed at for just a week.
Despite officially living at the Slone’s Daniel was spending lots of time at his mother’s house. Daniel was causing concern with everyone who knew him either as a family or in a professional capacity. Daniel’s mother believed her son’s mental health was deteriorating especially following an incident in which Daniel harmed himself by punching a window. After that incident, Daniel was admitted to the Araham Cowley unit which is an open psychiatric unit. Daniel was assessed and then discharged by the mental health review tribunal to live with the Sloane’s, but, Daniel still spent much of his time at his mother’s house, who was told mental health professionals that Daniel was talking loudly to himself at night.
When Daniel turned 18, he had to leave his foster family home as he was an adult. A new carer was found for Daniel to continue his care called Steve Price. Mr Price along with Daniels parents was so concerned with Daniel’s Mental Health, drug taking, run-ins with the police along with a total lack of engagement with other people that a strategy meeting was called. Attending the meeting was social services, youth justice services and Mr Price, there were also representatives from other agencies but, perhaps significantly Daniels mother was not invited to attend. The meeting concluded that Daniel would probably never be able to live independently as he was a high risk of suicide, self-harm and potentially violence.
Two weeks after the strategy meeting Daniel was taken to hospital by police and detained under section 3 of the mental health act as Daniels Youth justice worker, John Humphries saw Daniel hitting himself over the head with a saucepan. When the police arrived, Daniel was causing damage in the street and became threatening to the police. Daniel was held under the mental health act until April 1999 a period of five months where Daniel was diagnosed as suffering from Schizophrenia.
Daniel’s parents thought that a good idea would be a change of scenery for Daniel so when Daniel was discharged from hospital it was agreed that Daniel would go and live with his father who had, by now returned to Spain and lived on the island of Minorca. Daniel lived with his dad from May 1999, but by August of the same year Daniel had moved back to England and was living with his mother and her partner Stephen Harper. Daniel suffered from a severe reaction to his medication and had to have his meds changed as a result. Daniel still complained about hearing voices, still getting himself into trouble and still, although a lot less than before, taking drugs.
In March 2000 Daniel was homeless as his mother had requested Daniel leave her home. Daniel was soon in trouble and was charged with burglary and street robbery. Daniel was remanded in custody in Reading prison for two months then Dover young offenders institution following his trial where Daniel was sentenced a two-year custodial period. Before he was convicted, Daniel was assessed by a Doctor who observed no symptoms of mental illness and, reported that Daniel had admitted to lying about his symptoms in an attempt to avoid prison.
Despite the Doctors report, Daniel was prescribed anti-psychotic medication at Reading prison as there were concerns that Daniel appeared to be mentally ill.
Daniel was released from the young offender’s institution in April of 2001 and lived with his mother again. Daniels behaviour had improved since his release and Daniel continued to see the same doctor that he saw while in prison as an outpatient. The Doctor in question still maintained that Daniel was not mentally ill despite Daniel’s mother’s insistence that he was. Despite staying out of trouble with police Daniel and his mother always found it difficult living together and before long Daniel was once again evicted from his mother’s house and slept rough until a hostel was located for him.
Daniel and his mother were able to reconcile, and by January 2002 Daniel was again living with his mother. After months of requesting help from Daniel and his mother, Daniel was eventually seen by a Psychiatric doctor, but problems soon emerged as Daniel was admitted to an A and E department complaining of feeling unwell and that he could no longer live at home. Daniel again was homeless and sleeping rough until a hostel was found for him in October 2002.
It wasn’t until November 2002 when Daniel was back in trouble with the police again. This time it was for shoplifting and Daniel was given a six-month community rehabilitation order. Concerns for Daniels mental health were raised while under the supervision of his probation officer, and Daniel was subsequently assessed by a community mental health team which concluded that Daniel was not mentally ill. Daniel was arrested again in April 2003 for shoplifting again and given a community punishment order.
Again, it was decided that Daniel would benefit from a change in scenery and decided to go and live with his Dad again. Now Julian had moved to Malaga on the Spanish mainland and Daniel lived on the Costa Del Sol for two months before going to stay with his aunt in La Coruna in the northeast of Spain. Daniel was clearly not well and agreed with his family that he should return to England to get the help he needed. Daniel even acknowledged himself that he had Schizophrenia in a letter that he wrote but did not send to his GP. The letter also said that he wanted to be admitted to hospital.
After Daniel returned to his mother’s house, Daniels mother found the letter and promptly gave it to Daniel’s GP. After reading the letter, Daniel’s GP sent a referral on Daniels behalf requesting an appointment with a psychiatrist.
From November 2003 when Daniel moved back to England, he had managed to stay out of trouble but was arrested and subsequently bailed for failing to complete his community punishment order. A condition of the bail was that Daniel had to surrender his passport and therefore cancel his plans to travel back to Spain to visit his father. In the end, Daniel was fined £50 for failing to complete the community punishment order which shows how seriously that sort of behaviour is taken.
On the weekend of September 11th 2004, Daniel went to a London rave, this was a relatively regular activity of Daniels, and while he was there, he would take excessive amounts of illegal drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine or crystal meth. Daniel didn’t return home until the next day which was a Sunday
The Events of Monday, September 13th 2004 Daniel exhibited some very bizarre, out of character behaviour and is best described in his own words
” I was running around Knaphill estate completely naked around the shops, past all the pubs and everything, back down the road all around the shops, completely naked. Yet I wasn’t arrested, no social workers or doctors came to see me or anything like that. Nothing was done to prevent that at . all nothing. I don’t know why I did it, to be honest, I’ve absolutely no idea. That morning I was punching myself in the face trying to give myself black eyes and I did have one black eye. I was just going mad. I’ve never been that ill before. I think it was a mode of self-harm but in a different type of way. I wanted to degrade myself, self-degradation to feel better. That’s the reason why I did that. I tried to break my nose by jumping face down on the dustbin. I threw myself down the stairs about three or four times. Anyway, I was running around the estate naked, and everyone saw this. My stepdad called the police. The police didn’t come.”
Steven Harper (Daniel’s stepdad) was at the property when the incident occurred although he didn’t call the police. Steven was sat in his car on the driveway about to leave for his sister’s house when a naked Daniel ran past him and down the road. Steven attempted to find Daniel but eventually decided to return home in case Daniel came back, and he had. Steven spoke to Daniel through a door that he had been looking for him in Knaphill to which Daniel responded that he hadn’t been to Knaphill. Steven thought something was wrong and that Daniel sounded different to how he usually does and felt the overwhelming urge to leave the property immediately and go to the police station to explain the situation in person rather than calling the police which, he assumed that anyone who had seen Daniel running naked would already have done.
Steven arrived at the police station and explained to the civilian desk clerk in a recorded interview that Daniel had schizophrenia who wasn’t taking any medication and that he wanted to assist the police. Steven identified Daniel as the person seen running around naked in Knaphill, but the clerk was under the impression that Steven did not want the police to attend which is something that Steven totally denies and he expected the police to attend the address. It is possible that Steven didn’t want the police to let Daniel know that he had reported him to the police and didn’t give the police much information as he assumed, the police would have all of this information on their file for Daniel. The police didn’t have any information because they were never given the information from the community mental health trust. Therefore the police were not to know that police presence was the only required course of action in the event of a crisis which had been agreed by Daniels parents and the community mental health team when they devised a crisis plan. Regardless it should have been established by the police what Steven expectations of the police were and also could have made their own assessment in light of the information they had been given and decided whether or not a police presence would be required.
After Steven left the police station, he waited until his partner, and Daniels mother returned home before entering the property. Once inside it was clear that Daniel was not in, but they did notice the kitchen floor was strewn with knives. Lesley made a call to social services where she spoke to the duty social worker. Lesley was worried about her son’s behaviour and explained what had happened that day. This was not appropriately recorded by the social worker who was under the impression that Daniel had left home following some kind of row. No records were kept by the social worker, and he took no action following the call meaning another opportunity to assess Daniel’s mental health was missed.
Shortly after 9 am on Wednesday 15th September Daniel, armed with a steak knife that he took from the kitchen of his mother’s house packed some clothes in a rucksack and made his way to woking train station. Daniel’s plan was now in action as the previous day at home in his bedroom Daniel fantasised about what it would be like to be Freddy Kruger for a day. Daniel had spent the day playing computer games and watching violent movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.
Daniel boarded a train from Woking to Portsmouth. After a two hour journey, Daniel got off at Hillsea station and made his way to the portscreek area which is popular with dog walkers and joggers it is also very isolated. There, Daniel spotted a couple walking their dog down a narrow path. The couple, Peter and Janice’s king, did not see Daniel approach and Daniel kept his knife hidden against his thigh. Then, Daniel lunged at Mr king and shouted “im gonna kill you” and attacked the unsuspecting Mr king. In a terrifying frenzy, Daniel struck Mr king with the knife several times around his chin area but, thankfully, missed Mr King’s throat. Mr King was able to fight Daniel off, and Daniel ran away. As Daniel ran off he was muttering to himself ” sorry, im schizophrenic; I can’t help it.
Daniel was frustrated following his failure. Daniel believed that the knife he had chosen was too small and would need a bigger one next time.
Daniel boarded another train this time to Worthing in Sussex and managed to steal a bigger knife. Daniel also decided that this time he would disguise himself with a white hockey mask similar to that worn by Jason in the Friday the 13th movies. Daniel found a secluded footpath in the Oakdean crescent area in Highdown. There, Daniel hid in some bushes waiting for a vulnerable target.
Daniel didn’t have to wait long as returning home along the footpath was 73 years old Marie Harding. Daniel attacked Marie from behind in a blitz style attack. Marie would never have seen her attacker coming and would have had no idea what was happening until she felt the blade from Daniels knife stab her in the back. Daniel then pulled the knife free from his elderly victim and in one fluid motion slits Marie’s throat.
As his victim lay bleeding and choking to death on her blood, Daniel stole £20 from Marie’s purse then discarded the purse next to his dying victim’s body. The last image defenceless Marie Harding would have seen is the merciless eyes of her attacker through the blood-splattered white hockey mask.
Marie’s body was discovered minutes later by which time her killer was gone. Daniel made his way from the murder scene back to the train station and on to a train back to Woking.
On the journey back to Woking Daniel passed the time by writing in his journal. Daniel wrote “I will be a serial killer” he also wrote “ I got that old bitch proper, bloodbath, pouring out of her throat, boy, Mcflurry” yes, Daniel compared the amount of blood that came from Marie’s neck wound to a McDonald’s ice cream.
Daniel continued “I got to say this, it felt really, really, really good. One of the best things I’ve done in my life.
The next day Daniel planned to travel to London and commit ten murders.
While in London Daniel spent the day and evening on a binge of drink and drugs; he also stole two large kitchen knives. It wasn’t until 4 am on Friday that Daniel took a night bus to Tottenham, North London. Daniel stalked the deserted North London streets looking for a victim. Eventually, Daniel spotted his target 46-year-old pub landlord Kevin Molloy who was walking home alone following a night drinking. Daniel zero’ d in on his target who was totally oblivious to Daniel’s Presence. Daniel lunged at Kevin and stabbed his knife deep into Kevin’s stomach. It is possible that due to the alcohol Kevin consumed he didn’t immediately notice that he had been stabbed as he said to Daniel “what are you doing” to which Daniel replied “are you stupid? I’m killing you” and proceeded to viciously attack Kevin inflicting wounds on Kevin’s face and chest and a fatal stab to Kevin’s Neck. Kevin was found dead on the pavement where he was attacked an hour later with no sign of his killer.
Daniel was not finished yet but decided that attacks in the open not be the best way forward as it would bring attention to him and hinder his plan on committing multiple murders. Daniel decided that he would attack people in the place they should feel safest of all. Their homes.
Just before 7 am Daniel broke into the North London home of 59-year-old Komis Constantinou. Mr Constantinou was awoken by the sound of a window breaking and went to investigate. Still, partially asleep Mr Constantinou was confronted by an intruder who emerged from the homeowner’s kitchen carrying an eight-inch knife. Mr Constantinou’s fight or flight mode kicked in, and he fought, he grabbed the first heavy object he could lay his hand on which was a child’s cradle. Perhaps not the most practical and probably not everyone’s first choice to defend yourself against a knife-wielding intruder but it probably saved Mr Constantinou’s life or certainly helped. Daniel managed to slash Mr Constantinou in the arm and chest, but Mr Constantinou managed to grab Daniel by the hand. Daniel bit his victim to release his grip, but Mr Constantinou was going to give as good as he got and bit Daniel on the neck.
Also in the house was Komis’s wife Christella who, despite the danger to herself came to her husband’s aid. She fought Daniel off by hitting him with her slipper before rushing out of the house into the street where she screamed for help. Daniel fled and was able to flag down a taxi to escape the scene.
Undeterred, Daniel arrived at 24 Makepeace Avenue in Highgate Hill and rang the front door buzzer. Inside 71-year-old Derek, Robinson was having breakfast with his 60-year-old wife, Jean. As soon as Derek opened the door, Daniel burst in closing the door behind him. In the hallway of Robinson’s home, they stared at the intruder who steeled himself for a few seconds. Daniel said internally “ ready, steady, go” and launched into the attack. His first target was Derek and plunged his knife into the frightened pensioner. Faced with two potential victims and remembering what happened earlier at the Constantinou’s Daniel knew he needed to work fast so, in his now standard method Daniel stabbed at Derek’s throat and, this time was able to strike fatal blows. Daniel then quickly moved on to Jean. Mrs Robinson was stronger then her older husband and Daniel admitted feeling a bit sorry for her as she had just witnessed the masked attacker barge into her home and butcher her beloved husband right before her eyes. If Daniel did feel any empathy, he indeed did not show Jean Robinson any sympathy as he brutally stabbed her in the throat then repeatedly stabbed his dying victim in the heart over and over until Daniel was sure she was dead.
Daniel stood over his deceased victims who lay in pools of blood. Daniel himself was covered in their blood and knew that he had to clean himself up before leaving or risk drawing attention to himself. Daniel decided to take a shower in the home of his recently murdered victim’s bathroom. Just as Daniel was taking his blood-soaked clothes off, he heard the front door open. The Robinsons were having some decoration done in their house, and the decorator had arrived. What the decorator saw when he entered the property will probably haunt him for the rest of his life, as the bloody bodies of Mr and Mrs Robinson lay in the hallway in pools of blood and the walls were also splattered in blood. It was like something from a horror movie. Next, the decorator saw Daniel who said to the stunned decorator “sorry about this mate” and fled out of a window.
Daniel Gonzales was apprehended at Tottenham court underground station where he asked the ticket office attendant if there was anywhere he could take a shower as he was covered in blood and tried to by a ticket with a blood-soaked £20 note.
Daniel was charged with four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder and was remanded to HMP Belmarsh to await trial.
While awaiting trial Daniel was invariably violent, so violent that it took a team of six guards in full riot gear to escort Daniel to the toilet. While in prison Daniel attempted suicide in one of the most bizarre yet disturbing methods imaginable. Daniel bit himself at the wrist rupturing the veins and arteries. He was found just in time as he had lost a significant amount of blood and required intensive care. After that incident, it was decided that Daniel be transferred to Broadmoor secure hospital.
Daniel was still very unpredictable and showed signs of being deeply disturbed while in the Luton ward of Broadmoor. Daniel needed to be secluded and continuously observed. Daniel was withdrawn, and none communitive with staff but would randomly attack personnel seemingly without warning but, despite numerous assessments by doctors, they could not figure out what was wrong with Daniel. Daniel attempted suicide again in the same manner as before by biting his wrist. Still, he was found before he bled to death and received treatment for his injuries. It was then decided that Daniel need to be moved to the ISIS ward where he was placed on the highest level of observation which is arm’s length. Arm’s length observation is precisely that, a member of staff is no more than an arm’s length away from the patient 24 hours a day. However, a lapse in concentration by the member of personnel assigned to look after Daniel meant Daniel was able to get under the covers of his bed and bite at his wrists again. Staff was able to get to Daniel before he bled out. Staff at Broadmoor was in no doubt that these were suicide attempts and not just self-harm. Daniel was determined to kill himself.
Daniel started to respond to the antipsychotic and mood stabilising medication he was prescribed, and Daniel was deemed fit to stand trial.
The trial took place at the Old Bailey where Daniels Defense looked to diminish his responsibility for the murders and attempted murders by stating that Daniel had paranoid schizophrenia and was commanded by voices in his head to commit the killing spree. The defence argued that a lesser charge of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility would be more appropriate.
The prosecution, on the other hand, was not buying it and accused Daniel of exaggerating his symptoms to avoid life in prison. The prosecution called Daniel a dangerous psychopath who took copious amounts of drugs such as crystal meth. They used extracts from Daniels diary and police interviews in which he spoke openly about wanting to be a serial killer and that he wanted to kill people because he was bored. Also, Daniel hadn’t at any time indicated that he heard command voices telling him to kill. Daniel said that he felt like a superhero when he killed people.
The jury took just 90 minutes to unanimously find Daniel guilty on all four murder and two attempted murder charges.
Judge Ann Goddard QC told Daniel that life will mean life for him and that he had brought unspeakable misery and grief to the families of the people he killed as well as his own family. Daniel was sentenced to six life sentences to be served at Broadmoor or a similar facility.
Back in Broadmoor Daniel claimed his final victim, Himself, using the shattered edges of a CD case Daniel cut both his wrists and bled to death alone in his cell.
Following Daniels suicide and inquest was held by NHS into the care Daniel received and although it highlighted some areas, it could have acted better such as lost opportunities for assessments and the failure to involve Daniels Mother formally and to support her in her care for Daniel.
Daniels mother Lesley Savage told the independent newspaper that health and social services ignored her for a decade. Lesley made countless telephone calls and wrote many letters saying the professionals that Daniel needed help. The response she got was that they would need to wait for a crisis to occur before they could help.
Its worth noting that until his murder spree Daniel wasn’t considered to be especially violent. Yes, he had some brushes with the law, but this was for theft and criminal damage. Could anyone of seen this coming? Probably not in my opinion. I do think Daniel had some form of mental illness, but this was amplified by Daniels continuous use of recreational drugs which would of almost certainly increased the symptoms tenfold. however, had procedures of been carried out correctly especially following the events of 13th September then the loss of the lives of the people Daniel killed could have been avoided. Would Daniel of still gone onto kill? In the end, Daniel killed the only person who could have answered that question, himself