A woman with a long history of mental illness and violence who strangled her mother with a scarf in the belief she was a witch has been found guilty of her killing at the Old Bailey. Regina Edwards, 52, strangled Priscilla Edwards, 78, in a psychotic rage before calling a member of the family and saying: "I did it, it was me."
The Old Bailey heard that Regina Edwards had previously been imprisoned for 10 years for stabbing her daughter in the leg and stomach. She had also threatened to kill both her mother and children, used crack, hit a consultant with a chair and assaulted her mother in hospital. She had stopped taking her medication a few days before the killing in February 2016, but had taken her frail mother's diazepam. Priscilla Edwards, a former midwife, suffered from Alzheimer's , dementia and partial deafness.
The Old Bailey heard Edwards killed her mother when she tried to give her a cup of tea at her home in Kirkham Street, Plumstead. "She was trying to be helpful, she was passing it to me, she's frail, she did it with difficulty, I said I didn't want it – I put my hands around her neck, I wrapped the scarf around her neck," Edwards said. "My mum's a witch, it's generational, it's passed down the line. Her eyes, her demeanour. She was looking witch-like."
Edwards was found guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and sent to a secure mental institution for a minimum of 10 years. If during that time she is considered suitable for release from hospital she will be sent to prison to serve out her remaining time. Judge John Bevan said the sentence had to reflect the suffering Regina Edwards had inflicted on her family.
"There is a need here, in my judgement, not only to recognise her dangerousness, but also to reflect the various problems she has brought on her whole family over many years," said Bevan. "Serious violence to her children, violence to others and now, latterly, extreme violence to her mother."