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Killer murdered woman and scooped out her eye following psychotic episode

Cerys Marie Yemm
Cerys Marie Yemm

A killer was experiencing a psychotic episode brought on by his use of cannabis and amphetamine when he brutally killed and mutilated a "beautiful and caring" young woman, an inquest jury has found.

Jurors said Matthew Williams, 34, who suffered a cardiac arrest shortly after being tasered by police officers responding to a 999 call, died a "sudden, unexpected" death caused through a "culmination of illicit drug use and struggle against restraint", Gwent Coroner's Court heard.

On Wednesday, the jury found that Cerys Yemm, 22, who was attacked by Williams in his first floor room at the Sirhowy Arms Hotel, Argoed, South Wales, at around 1am on November 6 2014, was killed unlawfully by him.

Williams used the broken shards of a cereal bowl to cut her face and neck, removed one of her eyes and bit her stomach, the inquest heard.

Miss Yemm's screams alerted other residents and hotel owner Mandy Miles opened door to the room to find the "horrific" scene of Williams, who had a history of drug use and mental health problems, on top of her with blood dripping from his mouth.

Williams carried on with his grisly attack despite the interruption, snarling "that is no girl" when he was asked what he was doing to Miss Yemm.

In relation to his death jurors said: "In the early hours of November 6, 2014, Matthew Williams was in his room at the Sirhowy Arms Hotel.

"Prior to his death Matthew took amphetamine and cannabis which led him to experience drug-induced psychosis."

They said the drug use "caused him to become violent" and added: "After the subsequent arrival of the police Matthew was restrained and he resisted arrest.

"He was attended by paramedics but his condition deteriorated and he was transferred to an ambulance (where) attempts were made to resuscitate him.

"Matthew was pronounced dead at 02.18 hours."

In his summing up, Coroner David T Bowen told jurors the only finding they could make in respect of Miss Yemm's death was of unlawful killing.

In respect of the circumstances of her death, the jury said: "In the early hours of November 6 2014, Cerys Yemm was with a companion in his room at the Sirhowy Arms Hotel when she was violently attacked and she suffered severe and fatal injuries."

Mr Bowen directed the jury to return a narrative finding in respect of Williams and said he did not require them to make any findings of fact in relation to the wider circumstances.

In a statement released following the conclusion of the inquest, Miss Yemm's family said: "We want to pay tribute to our beautiful daughter Cerys, who was kind, caring and could always see the best in people."

They said Miss Yemm was killed while Williams was in a psychotic state through illegal drug abuse.

"Throughout this inquest we have been searching for the answers to our questions as to how her murder, which has so devastated our family, could take place in the heart of our community and why the agencies responsible for protecting the public from violent offenders could not prevent this awful event from occurring."

The family of Williams have said evidence heard during the inquest had exposed "clear failings" in the mental health, housing and criminal justice system.

In a statement read out on behalf of the family, they said: "We regret that the jury were not given the opportunity by the coroner to express their view on these issues.

"We hope that this case will highlight the need for better mental health care and lead to the effective sharing of information between state agencies and that another family will not have to go through what families touched by this inquest have had to endure."

The family said they would like to repeat their "sincere condolences" to Miss Yemm's family and added it had been agreed allegations of cannibalism, published in the press after the incident, were unfounded.

They said: "In participating in this inquest we have not sought to excuse our son's actions but have tried to understand them.

"Matthew was a very troubled man with significant mental health difficulties made worse by drug abuse.

"He had needed long-term support and treatment for many years but this was not available either in prison or in the community.

"We were also surprised that the health board, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg chose to play no part in this process."

Williams, who had 26 previous convictions for 78 offences, was released from HMP Parc, Bridgend, having served all of a 27-month sentence for blackmail on October 23 2014.

The inquest heard Williams, of Blackwood, who was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia, was released with no medication, his mental health having stabilised in custody.

He refused to accept support from probation or police saying they could "f*** off" and he was a free man who wanted to get on with his life.

Following his release, Williams met Miss Yemm, from Oakdale, on a night out and formed a "flirty" relationship with her.

He also spent a weekend taking amphetamine and mephedrone, or meow meow and not sleeping while partying with a friend, Rhodri Moore, the inquest heard.

On November 5, Mr Moore and Williams picked Miss Yemm up from the home she shared with her mother and sister and the trio went to Mr Moore's house where they drank lager and smoked cannabis.

Mr Moore said his friend who was "a lovely guy until you cross him", was not "getting the help he needed" after his release and was having hallucinations, including seeing faces in cans of soft drink.

He added Williams did not take any drugs, apart from cannabis, while at his house but he could tell he "wasn't in the right frame of mind from the weekend".

The inquest heard Williams became upset when they started watching a documentary about the psychiatric hospital Broadmoor and said: "What are you watching these psychos for?"

But Mr Moore said the relationship between Williams and Miss Yemm was on the way to becoming boyfriend and girlfriend and that there did not appear to be strain between them before they left his house at around 11.30pm that evening.

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of Miss Yemm and Williams arriving at the hotel and of Williams leaving his room twice between midnight and 1am, including to brush his teeth.

The 999 call recording was played during the hearing and jurors heard Mrs Miles screaming, crying and shouting "oh God, oh God", while begging the police to come quickly, saying that there had been a murder at the hotel.

She said: "He has put a screwdriver through her face and is eating her ...

 

"There was screaming and screaming. Oh my God it is awful."

Mrs Miles later said "science" had proven Williams was not eating Miss Yemm.

Police arrived at 1.37am and Taser-trained officer Pc Alan Cottrell said the scene that awaited them was the "most horrendous thing I have ever seen".

He said Williams's eyes were black and he looked "totally vacant" and "possessed".

Pc Cottrell said he used the Taser on Williams, who was then arrested and placed in handcuffs and leg straps.

The inquest heard Williams started to try to rise up again about seven minutes after the Taser was first used and was tasered three more times in in the space of 27 seconds.

Paramedics arrived at 1.48am and, quickly realising Miss Yemm was dead, turned their attention to Williams who later stopped breathing.

Despite attempts to resuscitate him, Williams was pronounced dead at 2.18am.

Miss Yemm suffered at least 89 individual injuries including "at least" three bite marks on her abdomen.

Dr Stephen Leadbeatter, who carried out the post-mortem on Williams, said he had been unable to determine a precise medical cause of death but he had instead given a narrative cause of death.

He said this was a "sudden unexpected death following a struggle against restraint (including discharge of a Taser) in a man with a history of schizophrenia who had taken amphetamine and cannabis".

He added: "The circumstances to me provide an explanation for death having occurred at that time."

 

The inquest heard Williams suffered cardiac arrest but the Taser use did not cause it and that he had a high concentration of amphetamine in his blood at the time of his death, as well as quantities of mephedrone and amphetamine of an unusually high purity level in his pocket.

Forensic toxicologist John Slaughter said Williams was "likely to have been in a state of excited delirium caused by the heavy use of amphetamines".

Following the deaths, which shocked the community, Gwent Police launched a murder inquiry while the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigated Williams' death.

Commenting after the conclusion of the inquest, Gwent Police assistant chief constable Emma Ackland said the force "acknowledged" Wednesday's conclusion.

She said: "The last three years has been an exceptionally difficult time for those involved and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone, particularly the local community, for their support.

"I would like to again extend my sympathies to both families for their loss during this tragic time.

"I would also like to pay tribute to all the officers involved for the professional way they have dealt with this distressing incident."