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Manchester mother Moureen Lound was devastated in February when her queer son, William, was stabbed to death by a homeless man with mental illness. A judge looked at the evidence and said the killer, Lee Arnold, targeted Lound because he was gay and occasionally wore women's clothing. The judge called it a "transphobic and homophobic murder."
On Monday Arnold was sentenced to life in jail in the United Kingdom for the grisly stabbing. But instead of speaking of the killer with anger, Lound's mother opted for forgiveness.
"I do not blame Lee Arnold for what he did," she said in a statement released in the wake of the sentencing. "I blame the system which allowed it to happen."
Moureen Lound is calling attention to mental illness, and to the system that had left a paranoid schizophrenic unsupervised in the community. The killer had warned authorities he couldn't cope with release, and he turned himself in after the murder, saying he worried he might kill someone else.
"He should not have been roaming the streets of Greater Manchester without supervision," she said in the statement. "When his violent behaviour caused him to be ejected from the hostel he was staying in, action should have been taken to protect him and those he came into contact with."
Moureen Lound noted her son's murder, and her daughter's apparent suicide three months later in reaction, as an opportunity to call for improved mental health services across the U.K. Currently, the nation is recognized as having the second-best system for dealing with mental illness in Europe, edged out only by Germany.
"Perhaps it is time our government woke up to the fact that investment in mental health services is totally inadequate," she said. "I believe people with mental health issues should be cared for in the community, but sadly without the resources to do it properly a minority will present a danger."
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, those living with mental illness are actually much more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than its perpetrator. Also, research shows the vast majority of hate crimes are not perpetrated by people with mental health issues.
In the case of Arnold, he'd spent most of the last few years in mental health facilities and prisons. He believed that Lound had witnessed him attacking a different man in a homeless village near a train station. So he threatened Lound to stay away and never return. But the next day, dressed in women's garments, Lound did return to the tented village, an area he frequented because the people were accepting. When Arnold saw him, he made the decision to kill the 30-year-old Lound: Partially because he hadn't heeded his warning, partially because he was cross-dressing.
Arnold planned to attack when Lound was the most vulnerable. To do this, he tricked Lound into having sex with him back at his university residence hall, only to stab him to death right after, while calling him a "freak." Arnold then wrote on the bedroom wall: "your (sic) not reddy (sic) for me. I always win. Tick tock," with an arrow pointing to Lound's body.
In his ruling, the judge found that the issue was not in dispute: Mr. Lound was "murdered because of his sexual orientation." Arnold's defense attorney had downplayed the anti-LGBT aspect of the killing, citing the cause as an "abnormality of mind."