Rowan Thompson

Ben/Rowan Thompson, a 17 year old violent male who identified as transgender/non-binary, strangled his mother Joanna to unconsciousness before killing her by stabbing her 118 times; 38 times to the forehead, 64 times to the neck, and 16 times to the arm. This is termed ‘overkill‘ – the use of gratuitous violence far greater than that necessary to end life – and is often seen in domestic violence murders of women by men.

Thompson was subsequently found dead aged 18 while in custody at a secure mental health facility, four days before he was due to stand trial accused of murdering his mother. 

Thompson had been visiting his mother in Hampshire for the weekend, having recently moved to live with his father in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. He was due to return there by train on the day he killed his mother after ‘stressful’ discussions about his living arrangements the previous evening. The chilling 999-call where Thompson tells the police to “bring a body-bag or whatever you do” and where he tells the operator that he has ‘put the knives in the dishwasher just in case’ was played to the inquest.

Thompson had been seeing counsellors having changed his name and gender and had been admitted to hospital 3 months prior with depression and suicidal thoughts. Mrs Thompson’s sister told the inquest at Winchester Coroners’ Court of ‘slightly strange comments in the weeks before her death’ where Joanna talked about being on egg shells around Thompson, and that ‘he would get upset about things and she was never sure what would upset.’ Mrs Thompson had also told her sister that ‘if anything ever happens to her what she would like me to do with her son. I didn’t ask about it, I wish I had.’

Thompson’s father told the inquest that his son had ‘gender identity issues’ and identified as non-binary but said that because he was placed into a mental health unit which ‘segregated boys and girls’, this made his issues worse – i.e. they both expected girls (who were also extremely unwell in a mental health facility) to have to share intimate space with Thompson – and therefore potentially compromise their own recovery/treatment – because it would make him feel better.

The coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing for Joanna Thompson. The inquest jury found that Rowan Thompson died, aged 18, of cardiac arrythmia due to severe hypokalaemia of unknown cause, contributed to by neglect. A number of serious criticisms of the Gardener Unit (a medium secure adolescent mental health unit in Prestwich run by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust) were made in the inquest report.

Photo via Daily Mail

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