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Son stabbed mom to demise after being misdiagnosed with autism

A 23-year-old son stabbed his beloved mother to death in a horrific knife attack after his deteriorating mental health was misdiagnosed as autism. 

Alan Williams, who was in fact suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, had the delusional fear his mother Lorraine Cullen, 43, intended to harm his eight-year-old sister.

Williams then brutally attacked her with two or three knives in the living room of her home in Huyton, Liverpool on the night of May 10, 2022. 

The 23-year-old was detained under the Mental Health Act and has been held in a high-security in-patient hospital since the killing. 

Williams’s treating forensic psychiatrist Dr Melanie Higgins told Liverpool Crown Court on Monday his diagnosis of autism three years earlier ‘was a catastrophic misdiagnosis’. 

She said the mistake lead to multiple missed opportunities to treat his paranoid schizophrenia that he had been suffering from for a number of years. 

Alan Williams, who was in fact suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, had the delusional fear his mother Lorraine Cullen (pictured), 43, intended to harm his eight-year-old sister

Alan Williams, who was in fact suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, had the delusional fear his mother Lorraine Cullen (pictured), 43, intended to harm his eight-year-old sister

Williams (pictured) admitted attacking his mother with whom he had been very close when he was deemed fit for interview

Williams (pictured) admitted attacking his mother with whom he had been very close when he was deemed fit for interview

In 2021 Williams was admitted to the Coniston ward at Whiston Hospital near St Helens. 

However Dr Higgins stated in court: ‘Despite noting multiple bizarre behaviours, and concerns raised by the family, no diagnosis is made, other than the diagnosis of autism being taken as fact, and no treatment is offered, although a recommendation is made that he be followed up by the Early Intervention Team.’

She added: ‘They (the family) were mocked for trying to get him help. It was very poor clinical care indeed.’

Williams admitted attacking his mother with whom he had been very close when he was deemed fit for interview.  

Prosecutor Richard Pratt KC said: ‘He said that he believed his mother was intending to kill his sister, either by drowning in her bath or ‘snapping her neck’.

‘He accepted in interview that his beliefs were delusional.’

Ms Cullen suffered 30 wounds concentrated to the back of her head and neck. She also had defensive injuries to her hands and arms as she desperately tried to fend off the attack.

Dr Higgins said that Williams, who was described as intelligent and without any previous convictions, ‘felt he had no option and if he did not act he would miss the opportunity to save his sister.

‘It was a terrible decision he felt he had to make.’

She said that Williams eventually and spontaneously realised he had been acting under a delusion and describes his attack as ‘shameful’.

Williams was described by his heart broken relatives, including his older heart-broken sister Kayleigh, as kind and caring.

She said he is a gentle, sensitive man who truly adored their mum.

She also told in her impact statement how six months before the tragedy he believed the television was telling him to go to the woods and told her not to drink tea their grandmother made as it was poisoned.

It was after that he spent a week in Whiston hospital but while staff assured the family that he was sleeping well, they knew he was posting on Facebook all through the night.

Mr Pratt told the court that after he was discharged he was carrying a knife for self-protection as he was worried his grandmother would try to murder him.

Kayleigh described him as her closest friend and said she had her mum and brother taken away from her and her life ‘has been torn apart.’

Williams's treating forensic psychiatrist Dr Melanie Higgins told Liverpool Crown Court (pictured) on Monday his diagnosis of autism 'was a catastrophic misdiagnosis'

Williams’s treating forensic psychiatrist Dr Melanie Higgins told Liverpool Crown Court (pictured) on Monday his diagnosis of autism ‘was a catastrophic misdiagnosis’

‘He has been so unbelievably let down,’ she added.

Ms Cullen’s mother, Angela Dalzell, described how Williams loved his mum, who was an office worker.

‘Everyone knows him to be a perfect gentleman with a gentle soul,’ she said. 

Her husband, Michael, horrifically found his daughter’s body in a pool of blood after Williams rang saying he had killed her, adding ‘she was in a better place.’

The defendant had been due to spend the night at his mother’s home but instead killed her, taking his little sister back to his house.

When police went to Williams’ flat they found his sister asleep and unharmed and he told officers, ‘I just wanted to look after my sister.’

Williams, who had moved into his own flat in January 2022 in Huyton, denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, which was accepted by the Crown.

Imposing an indefinite hospital order Judge Andrew Menary, KC, the Recorder of Liverpool said that Williams was described as ‘a delightful, loving, caring young man who in normal circumstances would never have done anything like this.’

He told the defendant, who appeared via video link: ‘Whether the events of this night of May 10, 2022 could have been avoided by much earlier diagnosis and intervention he will never know for sure.

‘But the views of the consultant psychiatrists in this case – that there has been a wholesale failure of mental health provision and numerous missed opportunities to identify and attempt to treat your serious and enduring chronic condition of paranoid schizophrenia.

‘This includes what is described by Dr Higgins as a catastrophic misdiagnosis that you suffered from a neurological-diverse condition when it is her very firm view that you are not autistic.’

He continued: ‘The previous responses of clinicians appear to have been pathetically inadequate and might be a reflection of the gaps in mental health provision currently available or might be the result of overworked or under-resourced practitioners.

‘Sadly it is the experience of this court that this situation is not a rare occurrence and the consequence is utter devastation of yet another family.’