Forfar death: woman admits knife attack

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A 45-year-old woman, initially accused of murder following the death of a 47-year-old man in a Forfar flat in March, has admitted a reduced charge of culpable homicide.

The High Court in Edinburgh, last Tuesday, heard that Melanie Stevenson, crazed by years of physical and sexual abuse, lashed out with a knife, killing a man who had shown her nothing but kindness.

Robert Brereton suffered 26 stab wounds, severing major blood vessels, after going to visit his former girlfriend.

Accused of murder after the attack, Stevenson’s plea of guilty to culpable homicide was accepted.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Stevenson leapt from the window of her flat after the stabbing, breaking her hip.

When police caught up with her she told them about previous violence in her life and claimed she had not meant to hurt anyone, the court was told.

Advocate depute Jennifer Bain, prosecuting, said psychiatrists who had examined Stevenson found she was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of the killing.

Defence QC Mark Stewart quoted from a doctor’s report, saying Stevenson seemed to have been re-living previous incidents “but discharged her aggression towards a man with whom she had previously had a supportive relationship”.

The court heard that Mr Brereton first met Stevenson about ten years ago. Their relationship lasted two years, but they remained friends after they split up.

Mr Brereton had travelled to Forfar to meet her the day before the attack, after stopping off in Dundee to spend the day drinking.

The court heard that Stevenson had a long history of drink problems, depression and taking overdoses. But psychiatrists said the violence was out of character.

They concluded that Stevenson’s background and mental difficulties resulted in her “misperceiving threat where none was intended”.

Stevenson, now of Tweed Street, Grangemouth, was remanded in custody pending the preparation of background reports. She is due back before judge Lord Kinclaven next month to be sentenced.