Mentally ill man who yelled 'kill' as he beat OAP, 87, to death with a cricket bat as she gardened jailed for life

A MENTALLY ill man who yelled "kill" as he beat an elderly woman to death with a cricket bat has been jailed for life.

World-leading musician 87-year-old Rosemary Hill died five days after she was brutally attacked by 46-year-old neighbour Guy Unmack.


A court heard how Unmack was standing in his driveway outside his house in Reigate, Surrey when he spotted Hill picking some rosemary for a roast dinner that her son was preparing at her house just yards away.

A woman heard Unmack shouting "kill, kill, kill" as he walked up to Hill from behind and struck her on the back of the head with a cricket bat.

At the opening of the murder trial at Guildford Crown Court, prosecutor Deanna Heer told the court how a witness, who had been in a car with her sister, saw the horror unfold.

She said: "When she first saw Unmack he had nothing in his hand but as her sister was getting out of the car she saw him run from the pavement down the driveway of his own home and back towards his house.

"She then saw him come back 10 to 15 seconds later holding a cricket bat.

"He crossed the road and walked up to Mrs Hill from behind and then lifted the cricket bat with both hands.

"He brought it down across the back of her head in a single movement.

"She (the witness) screamed and her mother, who was driving, sounded the horn, which distracted the defendant who ran back across the road away from Mrs Hill."

In the aftermath of the attack, Unmack was heard muttering that he "just wanted to have fun".

The unprovoked attack took place at about 5.30pm on June 21 last year.

Unmack, of Warren Road, was convicted by the jury of murder after they rejected his defence of diminished responsibility.

He gave no explanation or motive for his attack on Hill.

Defence barrister Lionel Blackman told Judge Alexia Durran his client had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2008 and was under the care of the Reigate Community Mental Health team.

Today, Judge Durran jailed Unmack for life with a minimum term of 19 years, telling him: "The attack was unprovoked and you have never explained why you attacked Ms Hill.

"The jury rejected the defence that you were experiencing a psychotic episode but I accept that a mental disorder has affected your life for over 20 years.

"No sentence that this court can pass will replace the experiences Rosemary's family has been through due to her death."

WORLD-LEADING MUSICIAN

In a touching statement, Hill's daughter Deborah Zachery told the court: "Our mother was attacked on a quiet residential road 150 yards from her home.

"The experience had a dramatic and chaotic impact on our work and personal lives. We never imagined there would be a murder in our family and especially that Rosemary would the victim.

"We are very grateful to those who helped Mum as they gave her first aid. However, we will remember her as the kind and caring person she was and we will not allow her to be defined by her murder."

The court heard how Hill had gained a full scholarship to the Royal College of Music before becoming a world-leading clarinet player, living and working around the world, including in Beirut and New Zealand.

She had played in the Lebanese National Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra before returning to the UK and becoming a dedicated teacher at Reigate Grammar School for more than 20 years.

Her daughter added: "Our values as adults are inspired by her. She was fit and well and part of a group of pioneering women blending home life and their career.

"She remained musically active right up until the first lockdown. Our father died too young but she had a happy second marriage but sadly her second husband died after a long period of ill health in January, 2020.

"We were looking forward to taking her on holiday after restrictions eased."

The family expressed their anger over mental health services which had failed to prevent Unmack from attacking the pensioner.

'COPS COULD HAVE DONE MORE'

Zachery explained: "It should not have happened and the circumstances should be considered so that it does not happen again.

"Surrey Police and Surrey and Borders Partnership could have done much more to stop this and we hope that no other family will experience what we have again."

The court heard that Unmack had attacked women before, including an elderly woman with whom he had previously struck up a relationship.

But Blackman told the court: "This is not a normal case. This defendant was suffering from a mental illness for many years and he has been suffering since the attack.

"Therefore this court should not impose a sentence that extinguishes all hope in the heart of this man.

"This defendant has arrived at this point in his life due to mental illness but there is still hope that he can be restored to his former personality."

The court heard from a number of Unmack's friends who revealed he had previously gained a law degree before getting a Masters in Spanish and law, and working as a legal translator.

Unmack will serve at least 19 years in prison before he is considered by the parole board for release.

If he is released, he will be on licence for the rest of his life.

During his trial, Unmack was held at a psychiatric hospital, but the Secretary of State will need to make a decision about where he serves out his sentence.

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