Son who ‘strangled father, 94, with his pyjamas’ admits killing but denies murder

Court News
Court News

AN elderly pensioner killed in his Northamptonshire home was strangled with his pyjamas, a court heard.

John Zebedee, aged 54, denies murdering his 94-year-old father, Harry, by ligature strangulation in the early hours of Friday, February 25, at his thatched cottage in Slapton, near Towcester.

At Northampton Crown Court yesterday, he entered a not guilty plea to his father’s murder.

Speaking only to confirm his name and plea, he said: “Not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter.”

Piers Read, prosecuting, said: “The plea is not acceptable as far as the prosecution is concerned.”

The court heard Zebedee will maintain a defence to the murder allegation of man- slaughter by way of diminished responsibility.

Mr Read told the court that the prosecution would be instructing its own psychiatrist to prepare a report and said he believed it was a matter for a jury to decide.

John Zebedee, of Waverley Way, Reading, was arrested in Slapton, a small hamlet near Towcester, on the same day as the discovery of his father’s body when officers were called to the property at 1.30am on February 25.

Mr Read said Home Office pathologist Professor Guy Rutty had concluded the cause of death was a ligature around the neck, thought to have been done with his pyjamas, although Mr Zebedee senior had also suffered “a blow to the back of head behind his ear”.

John Lloyd-Jones, defending, said: “He makes it plain he killed his father and in doing so he did so unlawfully.”

He also told Judge Charles Wide QC that the defendant’s sister and niece, who were in court, may give evidence during the trial.

Judge Charles Wide QC, who adjourned the case for a three-day trial in October, said: “The issue here is a quite a narrow one.”

Zebedee was further remanded in custody until August when his six-month custody time limit is due to expire.