Lee Arnold, pictured, went to A&E 10 months before the murder complaining that he was hearing a voice telling him to kill people. Photograph: GMP/PA
The mother of a student who was murdered in a transphobic and homophobic attack has blamed “totally inadequate” mental health services for the death of her son.
Lee Arnold, 37, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum term of 23 years and four months for stabbing 30-year-old William Lound 12 times in his room at his halls of residence in February this year.
Arnold, who has paranoid schizophrenia and anti-social personality disorder, has 19 previous criminal convictions, including threatening a 64-year-old with a knife and racially motivated street robbery. He spent seven years in psychiatric care before being released into the community in April 2014.
Speaking after the sentencing at Manchester Minshull Street crown court on Monday, Mo Lound, whose daughter took her own life after her son’s murder, said: “I do not blame Lee Arnold for what he did, I blame the system which allowed it to happen. Arnold is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic with a history of violence and has spent much of his adult life in secure institutions. He should not have been roaming the streets of Greater Manchester without supervision.”
Judge John Potter told the court the victim was a bright, kind and intelligent man whose first reaction when he met people in need was to offer help. Lound had taught himself to speak three languages and had travelled the world in the merchant navy before working for two years to get the qualifications he needed to go to university to study computer science.
Lound, who was gay and would occasionally wear women’s clothing and makeup, won a scholarship to study at Salford University, enrolling last September.
The judge paid tribute to his mother and urged the appropriate authorities to consider carefully, and if necessary act upon, criticism made of the mental health care Arnold had received.
Arnold presented himself to the accident and emergency department of Manchester Royal Infirmary 10 months before the murder, saying he was hearing a voice telling him to kill people. He was admitted to hospital for assessment before being discharged to a supported hostel, which he never attended.
The following month he was found by police at Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester with a razor blade in his hand saying he was “going out of his head with voices” and wanted to kill himself to prevent him from harming others. The prosecution barrister, Robert Hall, said that over the weeks and months that followed, Arnold continued a cycle of prescription drug overdoses followed by treatment for his mental health problems only to be released back into the community again.
Lound met Arnold at the “tented village”, a community of homeless people in Manchester, where he had taken to spending time. Hall said the student felt that the people living there were “less judgmental of his lifestyle, habits and attitudes”.
On 7 February this year, Arnold went to Lound’s room in a shared student flat in Bramall Court, Salford, where the pair had sex, the court heard. Arnold took a knife from the kitchen and stabbed the victim six times in the upper back and six times in the head and neck.
In Arnold’s account of the murder, he said Lound asked repeatedly: “Why are you doing this to me?” and he responded: “Shut up you little freak.” After Lound died, Arnold drew an arrow on the wall above the bed pointing to the victim’s body, next to the words: “Number 1. Your not reddy [sic] for me. I always win. Tick tock.”
The following day Arnold arrived at a drop-in centre for homeless people where he approached a member of staff and told them he had committed a murder. Police were called and Arnold directed them to Lound’s flat. Upon hearing his victim’s body had been found, Arnold said: “I told you I was telling the truth. That’s why I handed myself in because I knew I would do it again. I feel bad for his family. I told you I was telling the truth.”
In June Lound’s sister Virginia, 28, known as Gini, was found dead in the convenience store she owned in Southport, Merseyside. Mo Lound said she had taken her own life because she was heartbroken by what had happened to her brother.
“Last Christmas I had two wonderful children who I loved very dearly and was very proud of,” Mo Lound told the court. “This Christmas I will be alone.”
Speaking to the press outside court in Manchester, she said: “How many other Lee Arnolds are loose on the streets of our towns and cities, with the potential to kill or injure innocent people? Perhaps it is time our government woke up to the fact that investment in mental health services is totally inadequate.”
She said her children’s young lives had been cut short by the actions of a man “who should have received the help he so desperately needed before he went on to wreak such devastation”.
After pleading guilty to Lound’s murder, Arnold asked the court that he be sentenced quickly so as not to “extend the pain” that the victim’s family had suffered. His barrister told the court that the defendant wished to be punished for his crime, so had entered a guilty plea and not a plea of diminished responsibility.