Iain Farrimond (top) is 54 years old. For the past 23 years, he had enjoyed “an impeccable career” with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Birmingham, latterly as a senior crown prosecutor.
On the evening of May 25th this year, Iain returned from work to his home in Worcester, and he and Tina spent the evening chatting about plans for the weekend away which they had booked to celebrate their wedding anniversary which fell two days later.
The court heard that Tina went to bed first but became aware of Iain’s “tossing and turning” at one point. Then she awoke because she could “feel something on me”. She found that her husband had armed himself with a large kitchen knife, and was stabbing her in the face and head. She screamed out but he continued. She fought him off and managed to disarm him, but he grabbed a large ornamental cat and began to strike her to the head.
Tina managed to get to the bathroom of the family home, while Iain called 999 and went downstairs into the back garden, equipped with another kitchen knife with which he then stabbed himself.
During the eight-minute call to the operator, Iain said: “I can’t go on”, explaining that he had stabbed his wife “really badly”, but “just couldn’t do it”.
When officers arrived, Iain immediately dropped the knife and held his hands up, telling them: “I am unarmed.” He told them later: “I thought today was going to be the day of death. I couldn’t get that right.” He said that he intended the attack to be quick. In the house, officers found a suicide note that Iain had written before he assaulted Tina.
Iain was taken to hospital in Birmingham, where he told doctors: “I tried to kill my wife, I tried to kill myself. I was going to kill us all.”
The court was told that Tina, who suffered five stab wounds and a fractured eye-socket in the attack, had enjoyed a “remarkably successful” recovery from her physical injuries.
The Crown’s barrister, Bill Emlyn Jones (right), told the court that the motive for Iain’s attack “had been his increasing feeling that he couldn’t cope at work and was worried he’d have to leave his job.”
He added: “His increased workload and the introduction of the digital case system which he was struggling to cope with, led him to desperation. He’d rationalised to himself the consequences of losing his job, and feared his wife would not be able to cope. That had crystallised in his mind as he lay unable to sleep in the small hours of the 26th of May.”
As he sentenced Iain to six years in prison, Judge Gregory Dickinson (left) described Iain’s behaviour as a “sad case”, committed while the attacker was “in the grip of severe depressive illness“. He added: “But for the effects of your illness, you don’t have a violent bone in your body“.
The judge said that ,since 1993, Iain had “worked hard in an important and demanding role, for the benefit of the public” with the CPS, before his depression took hold that night. He told Iain: “Your intention was to kill your wife, and commit suicide. Forgive me, but thank God you failed.”
At this point, I would disagree completely with the judge. I would submit that Ian was not “in the grip of severe depressive illness“, but was instead in the grip of akathisia. This is described as an involuntary disorder, usually induced by an adverse reaction to psychiatric medication, which can cause a person to experience such intense inner restlessness that the sufferer is driven to violence and/or suicide, without any regard for the consequences for self or others.
During the hearing, the court was informed that Iain had been prescribed the SSRI antidepressant Fluoxetine, also known as Prozac. A photo (right) of Iain taken after his arrest clearly shows what one American expert calls “Prozac Eyes”.
Because of the acknowledged risk of suicidal ideation, NICE Guideline CG90 recommends that, for adults, Fluoxetine and other SSRIs should be prescribed only after a diagnosis of moderate to severe depression has been confirmed. If this were the case, I wouldn’t have expected Iain to be going into work.
What is more likely is that Iain was in fact suffering from work-based stress. For any “subthreshold” condition such as stress, NICE does not approve the prescription of SSRIs, stating that “the risk-benefit ratio is poor”.
Antidepressants have been reported as causing suicide and homicide, and frequently induce akathisia.
Recent research, published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, found that: “An out-of-character unmotivated homicide or suicide by a person taking medication might be chemically induced and involuntary. The capacity to use frontal lobe functions and control behaviour can be impaired by brain toxicity… Weird impulses to kill were acted on without warning. On recovery, all recognised their actions to be out of character, and their beliefs and behaviours horrified them.”
Having completed their research, Dr Yolande Lucire (left) and her colleagues devised a blood test which can measure metabolism levels to differentiate those who can tolerate a drug or combination of drugs from those who might not.
They concluded that: “As forensic medical and toxicology professionals become aware of the biological causes of these catastrophic side effects, they may bring justice to both perpetrators and to victims of akathisia-related violence. The medicalisation of common human distress has resulted in a very large population getting medication that may do more harm than good by causing suicides, homicides and the mental states that lead up to them.”
The court heard a statement from Tina, who had been in a relationship with Iain for 31 years in all. She described Iain as “the perfect husband” and “the most loving, caring person I know“.
She added: “I love him very much. I want him to receive the medical treatment he needs. All I want is for us to be a family again. Iain needs to get better and I will help with this in any way I can. I just want my husband to come home.”
Iain Farrimond does not belong in prison, where the probability is that he will be given more psychiatric medication that will continue to do him more harm than good.