‘Sick’ man left trail of devastation

Police at the Rao house in Collingwood Street, Standish, in February 2008. Below - John Rao
Police at the Rao house in Collingwood Street, Standish, in February 2008. Below - John Rao

A PARANOID schizophrenic stabbed his sister and mother to death after deciding to kill his whole family, a court heard.

John Rao launched the attack because he delusionally believed they had been “ripping him off” and on his way to his Wigan home from a trip to London he bought a 99 pence peeling knife from a supermarket and used it to brutally attack the two women.

John Rao

John Rao

In 2009, the year after killing his mother Leela and sister Geeta Rao, he was found unfit to plead and after a jury ruled he had unlawful killed them he was committed to Ashworth Special Hospital in Maghull, Merseyside.

However, in February this year it was found that he was now fit to plead and today he denied two offences of murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone, QC, imposed an indefinite hospital order and 44-year-old Rao, who appeared in the city’s crown court via video link from Ashworth, will remain there.

He told him that because of the risk of him committing further offences it was necessary to impose the order to protect the public.

The judge said that the “horror and the trail of devastation Rao left in his wake for a loving family was simply caused by his condition which does not currently and may never enable you to benefit from a lecture about the wickedness of what you did.

“You are a very sick man but you are also currently an extremely dangerous one.”

He said that he may never recover sufficiently to be released even if his physical condition enables him to survive for that length of time.

Ian Harris, prosecuting, had told the court that 43-year-old Geeta, who suffered multiple stab wounds in the back, died during emergency surgery.

Her mother was stabbed twice in the neck, severing her spinal cord and leaving her paralysed. She died from her injuries on August 11, 2008.

Rao had previously admitted to his mother - a retired GP who, ironically, specialised in psychiatry - that “my thoughts are different from yours and everybody’s.”

At teatime on February 19, 2008 his 73-year-old mother visited Geeta, who lived opposite her in Collingwood Street, Wigan and Rao arrived, unknown to them armed with the knife. He had not been invited as had previously behaved aggressively towards his mum and had received hospital treatment for mental illness.

After the attack Leela Rao made a statement to police about the tragic incident and told how she heard her daughter scream in the kitchen, where she had gone to make some tea. Rao then came in and sarcastically asked if she wanted some tea.

“She then felt “a big heavy something, very heavy on my head.” She had been stabbed and described how she was pouring blood, couldn’t get up and was in terrible pain.

The court heard that she later described her condition as “the worst hell that I could have.”

Rao went to his own flat in Greenwood Road, Standish, after the stabbings and when police arrived he said the knife was in his mother’s home.

His flat was a poorly furnished and filthy with bizarre and rambling writing and pseudo-religious writing on many of the walls, said Mr Harris.

In interviews he claimed the women had been unfair to him and ripping him off and owing him money and this had been going on for 10 years.

He said it was on the train ride home he decided to kill them. “In fact I thought I was going to kill them all, everybody in my family because they’d all been ripping me off.

“I decided I was going to kill everybody but I couldn’t manage to get them all together like throw a part to get them all together to kill them all, all of my family.”

He said he changed his mind but after an argument developed, “it got hot again” and decided to wait for an opportune moment to kill them both.

John McDermott, QC, defending, told the court that Rao still requires treatment but there was a glimmer of him emerging from a long period of mental illness. “He now has some insight but when he did what he did he had very little at the time.”

After the hearing Det Chief Insp Phil Reade said: “This is a tragedy that has devastated a whole family.

“Not even the time that has gone by makes this any easier but I hope that todays outcome allows them to move forward and continue rebuilding their lives.”