The heartbroken wife of a beloved father-of-three who was savagely stabbed to death by their neighbour in a trivial parking dispute today slammed ‘toothless and ineffective’ police for failing to act on years of threats and abuse after the knifeman was convicted of murder.
Matthew Boorman, 43, was viciously knifed 27 times by Turkish-born Can Arslan, 52, on the victim’s front lawn in the Gloucestershire village of Walton Cardiff near Tewkesbury on October 5 last year, before his killer then sat on his body and lit a cigarette.
Arslan then knifed Mr Boorman’s wife Sarah in the leg as she desperately tried to drag him off her husband, before the ‘animal’ attacker forced his way into the home of another neighbour, Peter Marsden, and brutally stabbed him eight times during the frenzy.
What were police told about man who made murder threats and left residents living in fear?
There were three main incidents in the months and days leading up to the murder of Matthew Boorman in which police were involved in the row over Can Arslan:
1) In May, the victim’s wife Sarah Boorman had made a statement to police setting out a summary of the threats they had received from Arslan. She said they were worried about being murdered, or that someone was going to be seriously hurt very soon.
2) Arslan made counter-allegations, accusing the Boormans of racially abusing him.
3) The day before the attack, a police officer telephoned Arslan about the complaint he had made. During the call, Arslan verbally abused the officer, calling him a ‘motherf*****’ and a ‘c**ksucker’, and told him he would sort his neighbour out himself, adding ‘I will murder him’.
The Boormans and people living nearby had suffered years of abuse from Arslan, and the victim’s widow, Sarah, said they had not used their back garden for more than a year because of his threats. He would yell at them that he knew where she and her husband worked, and film the windows of their children’s bedrooms.
Arslan, who has been diagnosed with a paranoid, unstable and anti-social personality disorder, would speak loudly about the things he planned to do to the family while pretending to be on the phone.
Then, when Arslan was arrested after killing Mr Boorman, he was filmed on body-warn camera footage telling officers: ‘He’s dead, isn’t he? I warn you, the police, one year. Look it happened. I was special forces, I warned them I was going to murder him, ha, ha, ha.’
Before the murder, Arslan was facing eviction proceedings and was subject to an injunction barring him from contacting his neighbours directly or indirectly in a bid to stop him abusing them.
NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOURS – THE BOORMANS
In May 13, 2021, Matthew Boorman made a statement to police saying he genuinely feared for his safety and that of his family.
‘I am very alarmed he made references in his conversations about missing prison and wanting to be arrested,’ he said. ‘I genuinely fear his conversation was meant to be overheard by us, to let us know that he isn’t scared of the police, is willing to go to prison, and when he is released he won’t forget about the incident.’
He added: ‘I also believe he’s trying to intimidate us into not making complaints to police. I am very scared of what Mr Arslan can do. He makes reference to being ex-special forces and has made threats previously of rape. This week he has taken images of my daughters’ bedrooms. I don’t know what he’s capable of and this causes myself and my wife to be continually anxious regarding the nature of Mr Arslan.’
SECOND NEIGHBOUR – PETER MARSDEN
After killing Mr Boorman, Arslan forced his way into the home of Peter Marsden and stabbed him eight times.
Mr Marsden said Arslan had ‘bullied, abused and threatened’ his family for 12 years but this had escalated since 2018 following an alleged scratch to the defendant’s wife’s car.
‘(Arslan) sent me multiple abusive emails to my business email, started hanging around all the time on the driveway and outside my back gate, waiting for me to get home,’ Mr Marsden said in a statement.
‘He would call me a mother******, a c**ksucker, tell me his organising a hitman from the dark web to sort of me and my family out – just general threatening and abusive behaviour.’
He added: ‘He told me he’s crazy and has murdered people before and would do it again.’
Mr Marsden said he had installed multiple expensive security upgrades to his house, including a fence down the driveway, a high-strength back gate, anti-climb fencing, and a new front door with no letterbox so no-one could post anything dangerous.
He said he had the ‘highest specification CCTV system with triple recording locations in case something happens to the main network video recorder, video doorbells, security camera lighting and cloud storage as another back-up, and an alarm system’.
‘All this is solely to do with the threats he’s made against us,’ he said. ‘In general he’s made our lives miserable and left us feeling unsafe in our own home to the point that my partner hates living here with him as a neighbour and would move tomorrow given the option.’
THIRD NEIGHBOUR – ULYSSES ALONSO
During his rampage Arslan told a third neighbour, Ulysses Alonso: ‘You’re next.’
Mr Alonso told police he and his wife had had to put up with ‘years of conflict’ from Arslan, stemming from the time he asked the defendant to park more considerately.
‘When I finally approached him and asked him, calmly and respectfully to park with consideration, he was racially abusive. I was threatened with my life, he threatened to kill and rape my wife,’ Mr Alonso said.
‘His preferred language is the repeated use of the following phrases – Spanish c***, motherf***** and c**ksucker. These are all used every time there is any confrontation. This also has an obvious strain on our family life, with the overriding fear that Mr Arslan will one day act upon his continued threats.’
A court heard that the killer had subjected his neighbours on the housing development to years of verbal abuse and threats over parking on a shared driveway. In May, Mrs Boorman had made a statement to police setting out a summary of the threats they had received from Arslan. She said they were worried about being murdered, or that someone was going to be seriously hurt very soon.
But Arslan made counter-allegations, accusing the Boormans of racially abusing him. In a conversation with police the day before his savage attack, Arslan called the officer a ‘motherf***er’ and a ‘c**ksucker’, before threatening to ‘sort him [Mr Boorman] out myself’ and vowing: ‘I will murder him’.
As Arslan was today convicted of murder by a jury, Mrs Boorman said that her husband ‘paid the high price’ for the authorities’ inability to protect the neighbours from the killer, adding that the shocking incident was ‘not remotely out of the blue’.
Gloucestershire Constabulary have now referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). The watchdog said it was investigating the force’s actions following a series of reported neighbourhood incidents prior to the death, and added that it was ‘examining what actions police took in response to a number of reports made by neighbours’ since January 2021.
In a statement read out by her sister Sarah Elston, Mrs Boorman said: ‘Today and for the rest of my life I’m mourning the loss of my husband. Our family and friends have been sentenced to a lifetime of grief.’
‘On the 5th October 2021, Matthew’s life was stolen from him by the Defendant, and he was cruelly taken from us. We will never be the same without him, but as we move forward and learn how to cope without him, we fight in his name to expose not only the malice and cruelty of the man that did this, but also the failings in the system that let this happen.
‘In the years that preceded Matthew’s death, multiple agencies and authorities were warned of the threat that this man posed not only to Matthew, but to many other neighbours who were threatened and harmed by him. Although Matthew’s murder has shocked us all to the core, the incident was not remotely out of the blue.
‘The police and other authorities had been told about how dangerous this man was, the threats he made, and the risks he presented. The response was toothless and ineffective, even when the Defendant himself told the police he was going to murder Matthew. That conversation took place on the 4th October, the night before Matthew died. He was not even warned.
‘Matthew was not this man’s only victim on that dreadful evening, but he was the only one with the misfortune to pay the high price of his life. Throughout this trial the Defendant has revelled in the attention, seeking his moment in the spotlight. He has not shown one flicker of remorse or decency. We will not speak his name. We are grateful to the court and to the jury for reaching a decision which reflects what he has done, the type of man he is, and what he has taken from us.
‘But Matthew’s story must not end here. We must all ask ourselves why this was able to happen, and how things were ever allowed to get this far. Mistakes were made. They must be acknowledged, truly learned from, and must never be repeated.
‘Matthew was an ordinary, loving family man. He was one of us. His life should have mattered; it mattered a great deal to us. We continue to fight on in Matthew’s name in the hope that no other family has to endure what we have endured.’
She added: ‘Matt shone brightly, he radiated enthusiasm and had a real zest for life. He loved to celebrate life, and fill the house with both music and laughter. Perhaps what people will remember most of all about Matt is his smile. His energy, his love, his laughter – a very proud father of his children.
‘He helped raise money for charity over the years, hiking the Three Peaks with friends, gardening at a hospice, running half marathons and much, much more. Matt was a man who infused fun into the most mundane tasks. He was a kid at heart who would fly model aeroplanes and race remote control cars.
‘He loved rollercoasters, music festivals, camping weekends, hiking, running, cycling, motorcycling and flying. He truly lived life to the max and lived for his children. Evenings and weekends would be spent together as a family.’
Arslan, who has been on trial at Bristol Crown Court, had denied murder, claiming he should be convicted of a lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. But the jury today unanimously convicted him of murder after a day of deliberations. They retired to consider their verdict yesterday afternoon.
Before the trial, Arslan had already admitted the attempted murder of Mr Marsden, and causing grievous bodily harm to Mrs Boorman. He also admitted affray.
The defendant has been brought to the court from Broadmoor maximum security psychiatric hospital in Berkshire every day – accompanied by six psychiatric nurses. Flanked by the six nurses today, Arslan, wearing a pink hooded top remained motionless as he was convicted. His wife and stepdaughter wept as the verdict was read out, and he blew kisses to them as he was led away.
Trial judge Mrs Justice Cutts said she wanted a further psychiatric report prepared on him before sentencing, and set a hearing for two months’ time. She told the killer: ‘I am not going to sentence you today; I am going to sentence you on June 9 when I will have an additional report on you. In the meantime you will remain in Broadmoor.’
At the time of the killing, Arslan was the subject of an injunction prohibiting him from threatening or abusing his neighbours, and had been served with a notice of eviction. Small rows over parking and a scratch to a car had escalated to the point where Arslan had repeatedly threatened to attack or kill those living near him.
The murder and subsequent threats and attacks were caught in graphic detail on the neighbourhood’s many CCTV and doorbell cameras installed by anxious residents, and played to the jury during the trial.
Two forensic psychiatrists agreed Arslan was not psychotic or mentally ill. However, he was diagnosed with a paranoid, unstable and antisocial personality disorder. The prosecution argued that, although his personality was outside of what is normal, Arslan was fully in control of what he was doing and that he knew the difference between right and wrong.
Arslan’s defence team had said his personality disorder met the condition of ‘abnormality of mental function’ that would reduce the crime from murder to manslaughter.
In her closing speech to the jury yesterday, Kate Brunner QC likened Arslan to The Terminator and cited the words of one of Mr Boorman’s colleagues, who was on the phone to him when Arslan attacked.
‘She said it was like listening to a “totally horrendous horror movie”, and it was a horror movie that was just beginning and this defendant had written the script,’ Ms Brunner said. ‘This was not something that happened to him – it was something he had planned and controlled. It was a horror movie planned out, where he was going to stab his victims to death one by one. A horror movie where he was going to take a starring role, and end up on the TV.’
Following his arrest, Arslan asked officers if he was on Sky News or the BBC.
Can Arslan (left), 52, killed father-of-three Matthew Boorman (right) on the victim’s front lawn in Walton Cardiff last October
Can Arslan, who went on trial at Bristol Crown Court, had denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility
Mr Boorman (pictured with his wife Sarah) was stabbed 27 times on his front lawn, dying in the attack last October
Pictured: Sister in law Sarah Elston reads a statement to the press surrounded by family and friends of Matthew Boorman
Family and friends of Matthew Boorman are seen outside Bristol Crown Court after Can Arslan was found guilty of his murder
Sister in law Sarah Elston reads a statement to the press in which she lambasted the ‘toothless’ response to Can’s threats
Ms Brunner said the defendant had faked a number different potential psychiatric defences, such as being suicidal, hearing voices telling him to kill, and then amnesia of the incident.
He asked the psychiatrist instructed by the defence if her report could get him a lesser sentence. Ms Brunner said that by faking mental illness, Arslan had demonstrated how rational he was.
Can Arslan knifed his neighbour 27 times in Gloucestershire after subjecting him to years of threats and abuse
‘He is a cunning, smart man trying to pull the wool over eyes,’ the prosecutor said.
Howard Godfrey QC, for Arslan, had said the defendant was not trying to ‘wriggle out’ of responsibility for Mr Boorman’s death, but said it was clearly ‘not normal behaviour’.
‘He attacks in broad daylight, when everyone is around and there is CCTV everywhere – is that normal?’ he said.
‘He doesn’t do it at night when someone is out walking their dog and then run away, he doesn’t wear a mask to try and hide who he is; it’s broad daylight, in front of everyone who is around.’
Mr Godfrey went on: ‘After Mr Boorman was dead, he continued stabbing him 27 times, then lights a cigarette and sits on top of Mr Boorman. Does that seem like normal behaviour?
‘He is calm, he is robotic, he is emotionless throughout much of this.’
Mr Godfrey referred to a number of witnesses who described Arslan as having ‘psycho’ or ‘beady’ eyes, or seeming to be ‘amused’ by what he was doing.
He also cited the evidence of forensic psychiatrist Dr Sally Foster, who found ‘impaired mental functioning was a significant contributing factor to the defendant’s acts’.
Mr Godfrey said: ‘In her expert opinion, (Arslan’s personality disorder) did impact his ability to form a rational judgment and it was bad enough to amount to an abnormality of mental function.’
CCTV which has been shown in court shows barefoot Arslan being confronted by an off duty policemen with a piece of wood
Arslan (barefoot) is confronted by an off-duty policemen armed with a piece of wood in Walton Cardiff, Gloucestershire
‘Matthew was a good man and had so much to live for’: Full statement by victim’s wife Sarah
This statement regarding the murder of Matthew Boorman was read out by Sarah Elston on behalf of his wife Sarah Boorman – who is Ms Elston’s sister:
Today is an important part of Matthew’s story, and of our story as we try to come to terms with what has happened, but it is not the end of the story.
Matthew was a loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and a dear friend to many. Matthew touched the lives of everyone he came into contact with. He was a good man and had so much to live for. We are truly heartbroken. We all miss him every single day.
His wife Sarah has asked me to say the following words on her behalf:
‘Matt shone brightly, he radiated enthusiasm and had a real zest for life. He loved to celebrate life, and fill the house with both music and laughter. Perhaps what people will remember most of all about Matt is his smile. His energy, his love, his laughter – a very proud father of his children.
‘He helped raise money for charity over the years, hiking the Three Peaks with friends, gardening at a hospice, running half marathons and much, much more.
‘Matt was a man who infused fun into the most mundane tasks. He was a kid at heart who would fly model aeroplanes and race remote control cars. He loved rollercoasters, music festivals, camping weekends, hiking, running, cycling, motorcycling and flying.
‘He truly lived life to the max and lived for his children. Evenings and weekends would be spent together as a family. Matt’s death is truly shocking. He was so young and had such a bright future ahead of him.
‘Today and for the rest of my life I’m mourning the loss of my husband. Our family and friends have been sentenced to a lifetime of grief.’
On the 5th October 2021, Matthew’s life was stolen from him by the Defendant, and he was cruelly taken from us. We will never be the same without him, but as we move forward and learn how to cope without him, we fight in his name to expose not only the malice and cruelty of the man that did this, but also the failings in the system that let this happen.
In the years that preceded Matthew’s death, multiple agencies and authorities were warned of the threat that this man posed not only to Matthew, but to many other neighbours who were threatened and harmed by him. Although Matthew’s murder has shocked us all to the core, the incident was not remotely out of the blue. The police and other authorities had been told about how dangerous this man was, the threats he made, and the risks he presented. The response was toothless and ineffective, even when the Defendant himself told the police he was going to murder Matthew. That conversation took place on the 4th October, the night before Matthew died. He was not even warned.
Matthew was not this man’s only victim on that dreadful evening, but he was the only one with the misfortune to pay the high price of his life. Throughout this trial the Defendant has revelled in the attention, seeking his moment in the spotlight. He has not shown one flicker of remorse or decency. We will not speak his name. We are grateful to the court and to the jury for reaching a decision which reflects what he has done, the type of man he is, and what he has taken from us.
But Matthew’s story must not end here. We must all ask ourselves why this was able to happen, and how things were ever allowed to get this far. Mistakes were made. They must be acknowledged, truly learned from, and must never be repeated. Matthew was an ordinary, loving family man. He was one of us. His life should have mattered; it mattered a great deal to us. We continue to fight on in Matthew’s name in the hope that no other family has to endure what we have endured.
We would like to thank:
- The local community, for their heroic efforts on that evening, trying to stop the defendant and putting themselves in danger; for the support and kindness the whole community has since shown our family; and for helping us pay tribute to the wonderful man that Matthew was;
- Matthew’s work and work colleagues for their support and kind devotion to Matthew. It has been wonderful for the whole family to hear how valued, loved and appreciated he was at work; their kindness will not be forgotten.
- Our children’s schools for the amazing support they have provided to our children as they try to come to terms with the reality of what has happened.
- And last but certainly not least, to the paramedics and off duty nurses who tried to resuscitate Matthew, who helped others who were injured, and who looked after our family in the wake of this vile attack.
Finally, we ask the media to respect our privacy in the days and weeks to come. We will reach out to media outlets when we are ready to do so, but in the coming days and weeks we need to begin to heal as a family and, in particular, to look after our children and help them process these unspeakable events.
During the trial last week on March 31, the court heard that Arslan said the voice of his childhood teddy bear told him to kill – but a forensic psychiatrist said they were ‘sceptical’ of the claim.
Expert forensic psychologist Dr John Sandford told the jury he did not consider Arslan to be mentally ill and that he did not need to be in hospital.
He instead found he had a personality disorder, which he described as applying to people with ‘a personality outside of the normal range’.
Dr Sandford said: ‘Sometimes you can help them but in some cases you can’t because that is just what they are, it’s their character.’
The witness explained that people suffering a psychotic episode or prolonged mental illness will tend to have a ‘package’ of symptoms, including paranoid delusion and auditory and visual hallucinations.
He said people who are hallucinating are often very distracted, will respond to the voices they are hearing and find it hard to differentiate between the person talking to them in real life and the voice.
The first mention of ‘voices’ in Arslan’s medical records came at 7.33pm on the night of the killing, when he told police ‘the voice said to me to ‘kill him”.
In later references to the voice, he said it belonged to his childhood teddy bear. ‘With forensic psychology you have to have a degree of scepticism,’ Dr Sandford said.
He added: ‘When you get a voice on its own you are always very sceptical, but when you get a voice on its own after a serious offence you are even more sceptical.’
Ordinarily, the voices would fit in to the pattern of someone’s delusional beliefs, the witness said.
He cited the example of someone believing the voices in their head to be coming from a microphone planted in their teeth by the KGB.
Dr Sandford said that someone with personality disorder may hold fixed beliefs that are not true, but not in the way someone with a mental disorder may hold paranoid delusions.
He said Arslan ‘believed the UK was fundamentally racist, believed the police were wholly corrupt and believed his neighbours had been unfair to him, and that they were persecuting him’.
Dr Sandford said that Arslan’s beliefs were rooted in reality – his neighbours had taken an injunction out against him preventing him from harassing them and he was facing eviction.
The court heard Arslan had a ‘grandiose’ and narcissistic view of himself, claiming to have wealthy relatives, have gangsters in his family and to have killed 61 people during his military service.
Dr Sandford said that during assessments, Arslan had both claimed not to remember the incident, and also that the violence was justifiable.
‘(The defendant) felt that these people had persecuted him, he felt he was a victim of the eviction notice and the neighbours, and he also saw it as quite reasonable to take the life of another person,’ he said.
Dr Sandford said he did not believe that Arslan had no memory of the event, saying amnesia is usually only caused by a powerful blow to the head or heavy intoxication.
He added that ‘selective amnesia’ – where someone represses a painful incident to the point that they can no longer remember it – is a disputed phenomenon among psychiatrists.
‘It is extremely rare, you never see it in general psychiatric practice, and some say it is so rare it is not real, you only see it in offenders,’ he said.
Dr Sandford said: ‘There is nothing to suggest that this man is mentally ill or disordered in some way, he is doing a series of purposeful acts that are goal directed, his goal is to kill Mr Boorman, and attempt to kill his other neighbour – it is quite clear how he is going about that.
‘He is quite controlled in the way he is stabbing – he is stabbing (the victim), it is not frenzied, he is stabbing him slowly and deliberately in the neck.’
Also last week on March 30, jurors at his murder trial at Bristol Crown Court saw a compilation of video clips taken on the day of Mr Boorman’s killing.
Some of the footage was released by Gloucestershire Police after it was played in court.
It started with off-duty police officer Stephen Wilkinson, who was carrying a piece of wood, following Arslan as he walked towards the rear entrance of neighbour Peter Marsden’s home.
Minutes earlier, Arslan had fatally stabbed Mr Boorman – who had been next-door neighbours with Arslan since 2013 – on his front lawn and was heading to confront Mr Marsden.
Mr Wilkinson was trying to make him drop the knife, telling him, ‘You stand still, now. Don’t you f****** go down there. Put the f****** knife down now. Put it down’.
Arslan forced the gate into Mr Marsden’s garden and the CCTV then showed Mr Marsden wrestling him out of his home – having been stabbed eight times – while Mr Wilkinson hit him with the wood.
Mr Wilkinson could be heard telling Mr Marsden to lock his door, and he left the garden and went back into the street.
Arslan then lit a cigarette and left, where he was again confronted by Mr Wilkinson and other neighbours, who were by this point armed with golf clubs.
The footage ended with Mr Wilkinson again telling Arslan to put the knife down, and the attacker then walked back towards the Boormans’ home.
Police also released further footage taken from the body-worn cameras of the officers who arrested Arslan.
Arslan, who was lying on the road with his hands cuffed around his back, was heard swearing at police and saying, ‘You’re next mother******, you’re next.’
Arslan added: ‘He’s dead, isn’t he? I warn you, the police, one year. Look it happened. I was special forces, I warned them I was going to murder him, ha, ha, ha.’
As he was placed in a police van, Arslan said: ‘I told the police one year because he was against my son, my wife, ha, ha, ha.’
He then said there was a bounty on the police officers and calls them ‘mother*******’.
CCTV issued by police of Can Arslan at the home of Peter Marsden with off-duty officer Sergeant Steve Wilkinson (left)
Can Arslan forced the gate into Peter Marsden’s garden and the CCTV showed Mr Marsden wrestling him out of his home
Arslan then lit a cigarette and left the house , where he was again confronted by Mr Wilkinson and other neighbours
Police officer Steve Wilkinson at Bristol Crown Court yesterday. He was off duty when he tried to stop Arslan
One day earlier during the trial on March 29, the court heard that Arslan stabbed his neighbour to death on the victim’s front lawn before sitting on top of him and lighting a ‘triumphant’ cigarette after the killing.
Mr Boorman, who worked for engineering firm GE Aviation, had just returned from work when Arslan stabbed him.
Mr Boorman’s wife, Sarah, witnessed the entire attack and tried to pull Arslan off her husband, suffering a deep wound to her thigh as a result.
In a recorded police interview, Mrs Boorman said she had unlocked the front door for her husband at around 5pm on the day of the incident, and had seen Arslan cross in front of her kitchen window.
She initially believed Arslan was throwing punches, but then realised he had a knife. The witness mimed the blade being brought down over and over again into her husband’s face and neck.
‘He continued to just stab Matthew like he was an animal,’ she said.
Mrs Boorman said she had screamed at the neighbours to come and help her, and Arslan had swiped at her with the knife.
‘I wish I had hit (Arslan) with something or thrown something or done something to distract him so Matthew had a chance to run,’ she said.
‘Arslan treated Matthew like he was a piece of meat; he sat on top of him and he lit a cigarette as if he was triumphant.
‘Then he threw the cigarette on the floor and got up casually and walked around to the front garden as Matthew lay dying on the floor.’
Describing the defendant’s manner, she said: ‘He was calm, he knew exactly what he was doing, he had waited for Matthew, he had done what he had done to Matthew and he was pleased with what he had done to Matthew.’
She added that her oldest child had seen his father’s bloodied body from the window, adding: ‘He can’t get it out of his head.’
After killing Mr Boorman, Arslan forced his way into the home of Peter Marsden and stabbed him eight times, although Mr Marsden eventually managed to wrestle him out of the property.
He was helped by Mr Wilkinson, an off-duty police officer, who followed Arslan brandishing a piece of wood, trying to force him to drop the knife.
The jury were shown footage of Arslan banging on Mr Marsden’s patio windows with the knife calling ‘come out, come out’, before lighting a cigarette.
The attacker then walked back towards the Boormans’ home, and those administering CPR had to carry Mr Boorman away in case Arslan targeted him again.
Residents armed with golf clubs, bats and planks of wood managed to contain Arslan until police arrived.
A court artist’s sketch of 52-year-old Can Arslan in the dock at Bristol Crown Court on March 29
The scene in the Gloucestershire village of Walton Cardiff on October 6 last year as forensics investigate
Arslan was being brought to Bristol Crown Court from Broadmoor maximum security psychiatric hospital (file picture)
Man who knifed neighbour had personality disorder but was not mentally ill
A jury trying the case of a man who stabbed his neighbour to death was given the task of deciding whether his diagnosed personality disorder gave him a defence to murder.
Can Arslan, 52, killed Matthew Boorman on the victim’s front lawn in Walton Cardiff, near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, on October 5 last year.
He also knifed the victim’s wife Sarah in the leg before forcing his way into the home of Peter Marsden and stabbing him eight times.
Arslan, who has a paranoid, unstable and antisocial personality disorder, had been threatening to kill Mr Boorman and other neighbours for years.
In the wake of the attacks, he feigned symptoms of psychosis, including hearing voices telling him to kill, and amnesia of the event, and also claimed to be suicidal.
Two forensic psychiatrists agreed Arslan was not mentally ill but were divided on whether his personality disorder should lessen the offence to one of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Arslan’s condition manifested itself in extreme anger and aggression to perceived slights and an overinflated sense of his own importance, the jury at Bristol Crown Court was told.
The defendant had a tendency to believe others were jealous of him and make ‘grandiose’ claims about his exploits.
Dr John Sandford said CCTV footage of the attacks makes it clear that Arslan was aware of what he is doing in the present moment.
He said Arslan was able to understand and respond to people screaming at him, telling one neighbour: ‘You’re next.’
When confronted by police brandishing a Taser, the defendant dropped the knife and got to his knees.
‘It’s quite clear he knows what’s going on and why he’s been arrested,’ Dr Sandford said.
The doctor noted that, although he was not mentally ill, Arslan would routinely make narcissistic and false claims about himself.
‘What I mean by that is that he just makes up things to make himself look good – claims about having money, having rich relatives, having gangsters in the family,’ Dr Sandford said.
‘His self image was of a proud and a hard man, a very tough man who had done military service.’
The witness added: ‘(Arslan) is an angry man who in quite a controlled way is acting out his rage by taking someone else’s life.’
But Dr Sally Foster, who conducted a psychiatric examination for the defence, said Arslan’s personality disorder diagnosis might provide a defence to murder.
She found that, although the defendant appeared to be rational during the attacks, the decision to go out and kill was not rational.
Dr Foster found ‘impaired mental functioning was a significant contributing factor to the defendant’s acts’.
She said he was more likely than others to lose control in circumstances where he feels threatened.
Dr Foster said Arslan’s personality disorder amounted to an abnormality of mental function, but said it was for the jury to decide whether that was sufficient to lessen the offence from murder to manslaughter.
Arslan was found guilty of murder by the jury today and will be sentenced in June.
Mrs Boorman said: ‘He was threatening everyone and enjoying it, he loved the attention of it – he was saying he was going to murder us.’
Another neighbour, Elizabeth Stock, who is a nurse, noticed that, when police arrived, Arslan’s wife, Louise, was ‘verbally aggressive’ to officers and threw a glass of water at them.
The Boormans and people living nearby had suffered years of abuse from Arslan, and Mrs Boorman said they had not used their back garden for more than a year because of his threats.
He would yell at them that he knew where she and her husband worked, and film the windows of their children’s bedrooms.
On the first day of his trial at Bristol Crown Court on March 28, prosecutor Ms Brunner said there had been a ‘long-running’ dispute between Arslan and his neighbours.
Ms Brunner told the jury there is no dispute that Arslan had killed Mr Boorman, telling them what they must decide is whether it was murder or manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Almost all of the attack on Mr Boorman and Mr Marsden were caught on CCTV and doorbell cameras around the estate.
Mr Boorman had just parked outside his house at about 5.20pm after returning from work, and was still on a conference call when Arslan stabbed him.
The prosecutor said Mrs Boorman had come to open the front door and ‘she initially thought (the defendant) was throwing punches but came to realise he had a knife in his hand and was stabbing her husband’.
Colleagues on the conference call heard Mr Boorman shout ‘what the f*** are you doing?’ and Arslan replying ‘f****** want it’? in a ‘goading’ tone.
Ms Brunner said: ‘The defendant appeared calm, smiling as if he was amused by what he was doing.’
Arslan was heard to say ‘You’ve no idea what this guy put me through’, adding ‘he evicted me’.
A post-mortem examination found Mr Boorman had suffered 27 serious knife injuries, as well as many more superficial cuts.
After leaving Mr Boorman dead or dying on his lawn, Arslan entered Mr Marsden’s home via a side gate, and forced his way into the kitchen where the victim was sitting with his wife.
The victim managed to grapple Arslan out of the property and lock the door, although he sustained eight serious knife wounds in the process.
After his arrest Arslan claimed he had taken an overdose, but medics found that he did not seem to be on any kind of drug. A psychiatric assessment found that he was alert and had no psychotic symptoms, the jury heard.
While in hospital, he was interviewed by police and made comments about stabbing his neighbours, referred to his impending eviction and his life being ruined.
He said he intended to kill a number of people who were bringing legal action against him.
In a second interview, Arslan claimed he could not remember anything.
Ms Brunner said the attack on October 5 had been preceded by years of threats from Arslan to neighbours, including telling the Boormans ‘I’m going to kill you’ and ‘I’m going to put you in the ground’.
He would described the violence he planned to do to them while pretending to be on the phone in his back garden.
In May, Mrs Boorman had made a statement to police setting out a summary of the threats they had received from the defendant.
She said they were worried about being murdered, or that someone was going to be seriously hurt very soon. Arslan, who is Turkish, made counter-allegations, accusing the Boormans of racially abusing him.
The day before the attack, a police officer had telephoned Arslan about the complaint he had made.
‘The defendant swore at the police officer and said he would sort his neighbour out himself, Mr Arslan said he would murder him,’ Ms Brunner said.
A spokesman for the Independent Office for Police Conduct told MailOnline: ‘We are investigating Gloucestershire Constabulary’s actions following a series of reported neighbourhood incidents prior to the death of Matthew Boorman in Walton Cardiff, near Tewkesbury, in October.
‘We are examining what actions police took in response to a number of reports made by neighbours since January last year. Our independent investigation began following a mandatory referral from Gloucestershire Constabulary about prior police contact and force referrals of neighbour complaints. Our investigation is continuing.’
Gloucestershire Constabulary Detective Inspector Ben Lavender said: ‘The events which unfolded on that early evening in October last year were truly horrific, and Arslan has not shown a single shred of remorse for his barbaric actions.
‘He carried out an inhumane act in broad daylight on the front lawn of Matthew Boorman’s home, while his incredibly brave wife and neighbours did everything they could to try and save him.
‘Mr Boorman’s children were also only a few feet away inside their home – this was savagely cruel. Within minutes Arslan then tried to take the life of another person and inflicted several serious stab wounds on Peter Marsden.
‘Arslan chose to go to trial and denied murdering Mr Boorman, claiming instead that he had diminished responsibility. I welcome the jury’s verdict which has found that Arslan was lying. He made a choice to take a life that day by carrying out these evil acts, and has lacked remorse ever since.
‘Mr Boorman was a loving husband and devoted father of three young children. My condolences remain with his family, friends, and all those in the community who are traumatised by what took place.’
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