Last year British MMA fighter Jahreau Shepherd was killed during a party for his 30th birthday. Shepherd’s brother Dwight Freeman, 19, has plead guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility. Freeman also plead guilty to wounding another party guest with intent.
Freeman, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, was given a hospital order at the Old Bailey criminal court in London. The court made its ruling after two consultant forensic psychiatrists concluded that Freeman was experiencing paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing and that this caused substantial impairment to his ability to understand his conduct (per Planet Radio).
Evening Standard reports that six months before Shepherd’s killing, Freeman reportedly suffered mood swings and was exhibiting behaviour that had “terrified” his mother.
Freeman is said to have launched a sustained and unprovoked attack on Shepherd, using two knives, on the evening of the birthday party in front of around 60 guests. During the attack Shepherd was heard to say, “I love you. What are you doing?”
Shepherd was also reported to say, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Don’t do this.”
The MMA fighter suffered 13 stab wounds to his back, shoulder, thigh, face and stomach.
After the killing Shepherd, Freeman fled from London to Newquay, Cornwall. After five days he was spotted there and arrested. Initially he was charged with murder, attempted murder and possession of an offensive weapon.
Those charges were downgraded based on evidence provided regarding Freeman’s mental health.
According to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, approximately 15 people per 1,000 in the UK have schizophrenia and schizophrenia-related disorders. The UK’s National Health Service states that schizophrenia is treatable through a combination of anti-psychotic medicine and cognitive behavioural therapy. Such methods are proven to greatly decrease common symptoms of schizophrenia including hallucinations, delusions and confused thoughts.
Mental Health Foundation reports that Black men in the UK are more likely to have experienced a psychotic disorder than white men. Black people in the UK are also four more times likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act. MHF states that causes for this include systemic racism, discrimination, social and economic inequalities and mental health stigma.
MHF also concluded that a number of barriers are present in the UK that inhibit Black people, and other ethnic minorities, from accessing mental health support. Those barriers include language and financial barriers and feelings of not being listened to or understood by White healthcare professionals, thus leading to a lack of trust in formal healthcare services.
Mental health support tailored for the Black community can be found through the following services.
The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network
Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective
National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network
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