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Manchester Artist Convicted of Manslaughter in Claw Hammer Killing Amid Mental Breakdown

In a harrowing case heard at Manchester Crown Court, artist Daniel Mitchell, 48, was convicted of manslaughter for the brutal killing of his girlfriend, Alexis Karran, using a claw hammer. The court was informed that Mitchell, overwhelmed by noise from nearby workmen, experienced a severe mental breakdown leading to the tragic incident.

Alexis Karran, a 49-year-old radiographer, was attacked in the couple’s £250,000 home in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester. In a moment of extreme distress, Mitchell struck her over 20 times in a frenzied assault. Prior to the attack, Alexis had expressed concern about Mitchell’s mental state in a text message to a relative, highlighting his immense stress and despair.

Following the attack, Mitchell waited 20 minutes before calling emergency services. When police and paramedics arrived, they found Alexis unconscious with severe head injuries. She was later pronounced dead at Salford Royal Hospital, as reported by Express UK.

The court learned that Mitchell and Alexis had shared a strong and loving relationship since 2010, with no history of violence or abuse. However, Mitchell had a background of depressive illnesses, and his mental health sharply deteriorated in August 2022 following their move to a new home and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tania Griffiths KC, the prosecutor, noted that Mitchell’s freelance work was impacted by the pandemic, leading to increased isolation and stress, particularly when Alexis was at work. Despite these challenges, there were no prior indications that Alexis was in danger.

Friends of the couple recalled Alexis’ efforts to support Mitchell through his struggles, although they noticed significant changes in her physical appearance and demeanor. Just before the fatal attack, Alexis messaged Mitchell’s sister, describing how cooking together the previous night seemed to have a calming effect on him.

Alexis’ brother, Leo Karran, spoke highly of the couple’s relationship, believing they had an ideal partnership. He imagined that if Alexis were alive, she would express sorrow for Mitchell’s deteriorating condition.

Mitchell’s defense was based on psychiatric evaluations, which diagnosed him with a recurrent depressive disorder leading to catatonia. He confessed to a psychiatrist that he had no understanding of why he attacked Alexis, describing his actions as sudden and inexplicable.

Ronnie Bergenthal, defending Mitchell, described the case as one of the most tragic in his 30 years of legal practice. In light of Mitchell’s mental health condition, the judge ordered him to be detained in a high-security hospital under the Mental Health Act until deemed fit for release. Mitchell admitted to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, acknowledging the severe impact of his mental illness at the time of the crime.

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