Lodger locked up indefinitely for hatchet killing of landlord in Northampton

Kristian Kopco
Kristian Kopco

A lodger who killed his landlord with a hatchet in the Northampton flat where they lived has today been given an indefinite hospital order.

The ruling means murderer Kristian Kopco, who the court heard had hit Tim Keam up to 21 times with the weapon on the night of April 2, cannot be released from the secure mental health unit unless a tribunal panel or the Home Secretary gives permission.

Timothy Keam

Timothy Keam

Northampton Crown Court heard today of the devastation the killing had wreaked on Mr Keam’s family, including mum Sally, dad Peter and sister Alison.

The family statement said: “We still find it hard to believe what has happened to Tim; that it is not a terrible nightmare.

“To be told that your son has been bludgeoned to death by someone he had only tried to help, by offering them accommodation when they were homeless, seems so cruel.

“Our lives since April 3 have changed forever. A day does not pass when Tim is not in our thoughts. A day does not go by without emotion welling up, at any time, and you have to try to keep it inside you. It is hard to function as before.

“It is hard to live life and enjoy the things you used to do without thinking Tim would have liked this or Tim should be here with us.

“No-one can truly know our suffering, to have lost your child so needlessly by someone’s deliberate action; to not be there for them when they most needed you in their time of suffering.

“Life will go on but it will never be the same.

“We are a large and close family and these are our feelings.

“Ultimately, there are no words that can describe the loss that we suffered.”

Timothy Keam, aged 48, had been described by friends in evidence read out at Northampton Crown Court yesterday as being kind, cultured and non-violent.

But the jury was told he was killed with a hatchet at his flat in Sears House, Adnitt Road, Abington, on the night of April 2 this year by mentally ill lodger, Kopco, 21, who Mr Keam had let stay with him because he faced homelessness.

The court heard Slovakian-born Kopco had since been detained in a mental health unit and that his behaviour in the months before Mr Keam’s death had grown increasingly strange.

The court heard that on the night of the killing, Kopco called a mutual female friend and made several bizarre allegations, and said Mr Keam had drugged and raped him days earlier. He said he was going to kill his landlord when he returned from his parents’ house later. After Kopco calmed down and agreed to merely talk to Mr Keam, the friend ended the conversation, only to have Kopco visit her nearby flat hours later and confess to the killing.

The court heard she was terrified, but did not know whether to believe him as he also began to talk about various delusions.

She eventually called 999 at about 3.20am and police rushed to both homes.

Climbing through an open bedroom window, a constable found Mr Keam with devastating head wounds, said by a pathologist in court yesterday to have been the result of at least 11 strikes to the head.

The court heard that Kopco admitted the killing to arresting officers, but insisted it was in self defence, because he said Mr Keam had allegedly brandished a knife at him after being caught trying to inject the Slovakian with drugs while he was asleep.

Kopco, who did not appear in court at all during the hearings, was deemed mentally unfit to plead on Monday, before his trial began.

The jury were were therefore asked to decide whether he ‘committed the act of murder’ or was not guilty. In a straightforward murder trial the defendant is either guilty or not guilty.

On Thursday morning Kopco was unanimously found to have committed the act of murder.

Judge Rupert Mayo said: “It’s a tragedy that someone who held out the hand of friendship in the way he did could have been attacked in such an undignified and horrible way.”