Mum's 'shock' after learning man who killed her son after meeting on Grindr spent just two hours in jail before transfer to medium secure hospital

A “potential serial killer” who lured a teenager to a remote beauty spot and stabbed him 128 times spent just two hours in prison before he was transferred to a medium secure psychiatric hospital.

Handout photo issued by Lancashire Police of Brian Healless, who murdered Alex Davies
Handout photo issued by Lancashire Police of Brian Healless, who murdered Alex Davies

Alex Davies, 18, was murdered in Parbold, Lancashire, by Brian Healless, 20, after they agreed a rendezvous through the dating app Grindr.

Healless, from Chorley, tried to set up similar outdoor meetings with four other males on Grindr in the days after the killing in April 2019.

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Undated handout photo issued by Lancashire Police of Alex Davies, who was stabbed to death

Preston Crown Court heard that Healless was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing, but a jury rejected his partial defence that his responsibility for the killing was diminished by his mental state.

The judge who sentenced him in March last year, to life with a minimum term of 24 years, said it was “extremely fortuitous” Healless was arrested before anyone else suffered the same fate as the “gentle, kind-hearted” sales assistant from Skelmersdale.

Healless was treated at Guild Lodge Hospital in Preston before conviction and was returned there on the day of his sentencing, following a request from the doctor overseeing his care – who also gave evidence for the defence at the trial.

‘Only in prison for two hours’

His victim’s mother, Beverley Davies, 56, she was “shocked” to learn weeks later of the move.

She told the PA news agency: “I was told he was off to prison and it was only weeks after, when the Probation Service got in contact with me, and I was told he was only in prison for the two hours and then he was swept back to Guild Lodge.

“The intentions of the judge in his sentencing remarks have been subverted.

“We feel justice has not been served on a sadistic murderer and a potential serial killer who should never be released into society.

“He has never shown any remorse.

“Alex has lost his life. He would have achieved something and I have lost the pleasure of my son’s company.

“I will never be a grandmother, I am the one who has to live with the facts of my son’s brutal murder. I have read the pathology report, it was absolutely horrifying.”

She believes Healless is feigning illness – he was described by the judge as “manipulative” and “devious” – but if deemed unwell is questioning why he is being treated at Guild Lodge.

Mrs Davies said: “He is so dangerous. Why is he not in a high secure hospital? Is it about money?

“I have asked for a general impression of what life is like in Guild Lodge, but there just seems to be a barrier where the public are not allowed to know about what the conditions are like in a medium secure hospital.”

In correspondence seen by PA from Alex Chalk MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, she has been told officials have relied on assessments from four independent psychiatrists which confirm Healless continues to suffer from a mental disorder which requires hospital treatment.

Mr Chalk said the transfer on the same day – which was “not usual but by no means unprecedented” – was not a matter for the sentencing judge and “did not in any way subvert the life sentence he had passed”.

He added that Healless was a “restricted patient” and the clinicians treating him had assessed a medium secure facility was appropriate for him “having regard to the nature of his mental disorder and the risk he presents to others”.

Mr Chalk expressed his “deepest condolences”.

Ministry of Justice response

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We have listened to Mrs Davies’ concerns and apologised for the fact she was not updated promptly.

“Prisoners may be transferred for treatment in mental health hospitals, based on assessments by expert clinicians, but will return to serve their sentence in prison once they are fit to do so.”

Julian Hendy, from the Hundred Families charity, said: “The court decided that Brian Healless needed punishment in prison rather than treatment as a patient in hospital for his terrible crime.

“That decision has now been overturned, not by the justice system in open court but by doctors deciding in secret.

“There are surely serious questions to be asked about the decision to transfer him so quickly from prison to hospital, and whether justice has been truly served.”

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