A WEST Cumbria man killed his vulnerable elder brother as he lay in bed after launching a brutal and planned attack with an axe and a knife.

Sean Blaney, now 38, entered the home of 39-year-old sibling Leon Blaney and set about him with the weapons overnight on Monday June 22 into Tuesday June 23 last year.

Leon had suffered a stroke during 2019, making him vulnerable and cautious about the Covid pandemic, and assiduous about his routine and the security of his Garnet Crescent home in Salterbeck, Workington, which he kept locked.

Carlisle Crown Court heard Sean Blaney had a key for the back door. He had expressed unfounded beliefs about Leon in the weeks leading up to the fatal attack, and told a cousin: “Don’t worry. I’m going to go up there tonight and kill him.”

Their mother, Susan Blaney, often used Facebook to check on the welfare of regular site user Leon.

But noting he was offline, she went to his home on the afternoon of June 23, finding the outer doors open.

“Susan Blaney discovered that her son was dead in bed,” said prosecutor Gordon Cole QC. “She called her husband and called 999. She also saw on the bedroom floor an axe and a knife.”

The axe had previously been kept “effectively hidden” behind other items.

A Home Office pathologist concluded Leon was struck many times and with great force both to the head with an axe or axe-like implement; and stabbed repeatedly to the chest. Three wounds penetrated his heart.

There were defensive injuries to Leon’s body “including an almost complete traumatic amputation of the left thumb”.

In relation to Sean Blaney’s earlier 'kill' threat, Mr Cole said: “The Crown say that this was planned and this is what the defendant did.”

When arrested, Sean Blaney said he hadn’t seen his brother since the Sunday. However, a neighbour saw him leaving the Garnet Crescent address at 8-35am on June 23 having, the court heard, made “conscious efforts” to clean himself and the crime scene afterwards.

He was charged with murder and was initially detained under the Mental Health Act.

But his recent guilty plea to manslaughter, on the grounds of diminished responsibility, was accepted by the prosecution.

Two doctors agreed he was suffering from a psychotic illness involving delusions about his brother at the material time. This would, they concluded, have been a “significant causal factor in the killing”.

His illness, Judge Simon Medland QC concluded, was exacerbated by his daily habit of smoking cannabis laced with the synthetic substance “spice”. 

Sean Blaney’s barrister, Richard Pratt QC, said: “He remains perplexed as to why he killed his brother. It is a state of confusion in his mind and, of course, he feels that sense of loss.”

Summarising comments previously made by from the brothers’ father, Judge Medland said: “The word devastating doesn’t even come close.”

Jailing Sean Blaney for 21 years, the judge said of his brother: “I daresay on some days Leon was in a better state than on others. The fact remains he was a vulnerable man who was no match for you.”

He added: “In circumstances which have never be fully explained and may never be fully known, you launched a brutal and prolonged assault on your brother. You used weapons from the scene to do so.”