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Son found guilty of mother's murder

Published 03/06/2015

Sean Heiss has been found guilty of murdering his mother
Sean Heiss has been found guilty of murdering his mother

A jobless son has been found guilty of strangling his mother before fleeing with her bank cards to Spain where he went on to try to behead another woman in a brutal and random street attack.

Sean Heiss, 30, from Surbiton, south London, was already serving a 22-year jail sentence for killing Clementina Liscano in Barcelona when he was extradited back to Britain to be tried for the earlier murder of 58-year-old Margaret Sheehy.

The Old Bailey heard Heiss had throttled and punched Ms Sheehy to death at her home in Kingston in June 2012 before fleeing with her cards on Eurostar to Paris and then on to San Sebastian in Spain.

Three months later, he was arrested by Spanish police for stabbing Ms Liscano to death after she disturbed him sleeping rough in a bank cashpoint booth in Barcelona.

Heiss, who had suffered from psychotic illness in the past, did not dispute that he killed his mother but denied murdering her on grounds of diminished responsibility.

But a jury convicted him by a majority of 10 to one following a trial at the Old Bailey. Sentencing was adjourned to a date to be fixed.

During the trial, prosecutor Sarah Plaschkes QC told the jury that before the killing, Ms Sheehy, a telemarketing executive at IntelliFlo, in Kingston, had been planning to sell her flat and live mortgage-free in Bournemouth or Spain.

At the same time, she had considered paying off some of Heiss's debts after he got into difficulties and was living on benefits.

But by the weekend before her death, the mother-of-two had told colleagues that she was going to stay in her flat and continue working after all.

Meanwhile, Heiss had quit his job at Waitrose and was £200 overdrawn in one bank account and had just £2.82 in his current account.

On the night of June 11, Ms Sheehy's next-door neighbour, former Great Britain hockey captain Ben Hawes, heard raised voices coming from her flat and noises that sounded like a cross between "a shout and a scream".

Ms Sheehy's body was discovered the next evening after she failed to arrive for work as usual and concerned colleagues raised the alarm.

Wearing pyjamas, her lifeless body was found in the living room lying on the sofa.

A post-mortem examination found she had suffered from blunt force trauma to the head, possibly caused by punches, and compression to the neck, either from a ligature or hands.

Heiss declined to give evidence in the Old Bailey trial. The court heard he had been taking medication for a psychotic illness between 2005 and 2008 but was not even seeing his GP at the time of the killing.

Following the conviction, Detective Chief Inspector Diane Tudway said: "Heiss murdered the person who supported and cared for him, and evaded justice for three years by leaving the UK.

"This conviction shows the continuing commitment of the police to bringing offenders to justice who have fled the country.

"Our thoughts are with Ms Sheehy's family and friends at this time."

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