A man brutally stabbed his mum 100 times in a horrifying attack at her home. Michael Rowe, 36, killed his mum, Bernadette Rosario, in her house in the quiet village of Penwithick, Cornwall, on March 28 this year.
The shocking murder of the much-loved woman known as Bernie, 61, stunned the small village. Rowe, who has no fixed address, pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility at Truro Crown Court today.
Joanna Martin, KC, prosecuting, told the court how Rowe started having psychotic episodes from the age of 16. He "would speak to people through his psychic powers", which he tried to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs including MDMA, magic mushrooms, cannabis and cocaine, CornwallLive reports.
Mrs Martin painted a picture of Rowe as someone with "a propension for violence" towards his own family, leading to several detentions under the Mental Health Act. She shared that he often threatened to kill his mother and even made stabbing gestures at people during various incidents.
Despite her son's violent tendencies, Bernie continued to support him until her tragic death, always trying to get him the psychological help he needed.
Rowe, who had been in prison for criminal damage and assault, confronted Bernie while staying in a homeless pod set up by Cornwall Council in Truro in 2021. Despite the threats and fear of violence, she persisted in trying to help him.
His violent outbursts towards his mother escalated into a serious incident about a year and a half before her death. After being released from prison, he showed up at the house she shared with her partner Lorna Harvey, broke in, grabbed a kitchen knife, and threatened them.
In a police statement at the time, Bernie said she was forced to "barricade herself indoors and sleep downstairs in case he would break in as he was a real threat to her and she feared for her own safety".
Mrs Martin told the court: "Bernadette felt torn between her own safety and what had happened to her son. But still she continued to support him and tried to help him stop drugs and seek treatment. She paid for his drug debts. But his behaviour was concerning and he made threats towards his own mother."
Describing Rowe's state of mental health, Mrs Martin said his sanity was declining at the beginning of 2023 and his paranoid persecution and delusions worsened, so much so that he described "having holes in his head" and being in a "brittle mood", even saying that his sister had been murdered when she was very much alive.
Five days before viciously killing his mother, Rowe turned up at her house and tried to punch her. Later he was described by other witnesses as being unstable, making threats to kill his mother saying he "would stab her heart and it will be a dirty, murky work".
Rowe's rage towards his mother exploded into a graphic act of violence on March 28 when he again turned up at her house armed with a large knife he had stolen from Wilko in St Austell after being let out by the psychiatric team at the Royal Cornwall Hospital at Treliske, Truro, after he became dangerous and racially abusive towards the staff.
The court heard how Rowe made his way to St Petrocs homeless charity that day but his behaviour being so concerning and aggressive towards the staff that they called the police.
Mrs Martin shared: "Bernadette answered the back door to him and he stabbed her straight away in a frenzied attack in the porch area of her house. This was a brutal attack. Bernie received 60 stab wounds to her neck and head and 40 to her hands, arms and chest."
Despite efforts by her partner Lorna and paramedics, Bernie's injuries were so severe that she didn't survive. She was declared dead at the scene.
The police and paramedics arrived at the house and a major incident was declared. A search for Rowe began. He was eventually found, arrested, and charged with his mother's murder.
During his video link appearance at the Crown Court, Rowe acted strangely. Bernie's loved ones described their horror and deep sense of loss. At one point, he smashed the video camera, which led Judge Simon Carr to warn him about the consequences if he didn't return to the video link.
Several psychological reports suggested three sentencing options for Rowe: 15 to 20 years in prison, time on a psychiatric ward, or a combination of both hospital and prison.
Judge Carr stated that the only way to ensure public safety was to detain Rowe in a psychiatric unit under Sections 37-41 of the Mental Health Act until the Department for Justice deems him fit enough to be released. He told Rowe: "Your release is a long way off, if it's even reached."
After the hearing, Detective Inspector Rob Smith, from the Major Crime Investigation Team, said: "The family and friends of Bernadette have had to deal with the most tragic loss and in the saddest of circumstances. I would like to thank them for their dignified support during the investigation and the thoughts of the entire investigation team are with them at this time."
"I welcome Michael's guilty plea and the sentence determined by the court, which was based on expert medical evidence."
* An AI tool was used to add an extra layer to the editing process for this story.