Hyacinth Morris

A son strangled his mother to death in their home then put her in the bath, a court heard.

Leroy Panton, 40, killed his mum Hyacinth Morris at their house in Levenshulme, during a ‘violent struggle’ as she ‘fought for her life’.

Panton ‘loved’ his 67-year-old mother and has no recollection of what happened, a court heard, and now feels ‘immense guilt’.

He had been suffering from ‘undiagnosed’ and ‘untreated’ mental health problems, and was experiencing a ‘severe depressive episode’ at the time of the killing.

Panton said he felt he couldn’t talk to his mum about his mental health problems.

He was advised to ‘pull himself together’ which may have acted as a ‘trigger’ to the killing, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Panton’s barrister claimed there is a ‘cultural stigma’ around mental health problems in the African Caribbean community.

Ms Morris, described by her family as a ‘brilliant mother’ who was ‘loved dearly by all’, was said to be a ‘proud’ woman with ‘good intentions’.

Panton, who admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, has now been jailed for six years and eight months.

His family are ‘broadly supportive’ of him, and prosecutors said they accept ‘something must have been wrong with his mental health to kill her, as he loved her’.

“I know he has done a terrible thing, but I just want to hug him and make sure he is okay,” his aunt Jean Morris said.

Sentencing, Judge Patrick Field QC told Panton: “It goes without saying, this is a very sad case.

“The fact of your illness does not absolve you of all responsibility for what has happened.”

Panton, a hospital cleaner, lived with his mother on Westminster Street in Levenshulme.

His parents separated when he was a child.

The night before the killing, in May last year, Ms Morris was at home with Panton and they both spoke on the phone with her sister.

She expressed concerns about her son, saying he had coronavirus symptoms and had issues at work, prosecutor Adrian Farrow said.

Panton said he had been self harming and felt ‘really low’.

During the call he agreed to see a doctor, and Ms Morris said she would make sure he did.

The day after, the family tried to contact both mother and son but their attempts failed.

On May 7, after 8pm, Ms Morris’ body was found face down in the bath.

A pathologist found that she had been strangled to death, and had likely died before being put in the water.

Panton was found two days later, sat on a park bench ‘staring into space’.

He appeared ‘disturbed’ and struggled to recall what had happened.

In an interview with police two months later, Panton said he told his mother of his problems and said she told him to ‘pull himself together’.

Panton had previously texted a work colleague about his mother, saying he felt he ‘couldn’t speak to her about anything’ and said ‘I know she is ashamed of me deep down’.

He also exchanged texts with a cousin and spoke about suffering depression.

Panton ‘didn’t seem ordinarily to be violent’ but had previously searched instructional information about martial arts online including choke holds, the court heard.