out in Chiswick shooting case
Opinions From Psychiatrists and Friends on what made Rena Salmon
shoot Lorna Stewart
Old Bailey Jury, who have been charged with the unenviable task
of deciding whether Rena Salmon is guilty of murder or manslaughter
have been told by the judge to use ‘common sense’.
Floral tributes outside the shop
where the shooting occured
Salmon denies murdering Lorna Stewart on 10th September 2002 on
the grounds of ‘diminished responsibility’. Her defence stated that
she suffered an "abnormality of mind" which, if accepted,
would mean she should be found guilty of manslaughter.
However, after a week of continuous evidence, the court has heard
from experts and friends, conflicting opinions of Rena Salmon and
her state of mind leading up to and on the fateful day last year.
Mrs Salmon claims that she went to Ms Stewart's beauty salon on
the Chiswick High Road that day to kill herself as "no-one
would want to use a centre where someone had blown their brains
out". However, prosecuting QC Peter Clarke said “We say it
is quite clear - she went in there to kill her rival, not herself.
The gun barrel was pointing at Lorna Stewart throughout.”
He went on to add that "There was no question of pointing it
at her own head. The shots ten seconds apart were quite deliberate.
The gap between was quite long enough to realise, if it was a mistake
or to be suicide, to put the gun to one side or turn it on itself."
Paul Salmon Defence QC, Paul Curran disagreed stating that psychiatrists
had shown that "anger is a symptom of a depressive illness"
and was what doctors would expect to see in somebody who was clinically
The court heard Mrs Salmon came to her senses hours later in the
police station when she said "I've really done it." Her
defence claimed "If that's not a clear picture of somebody
who is suffering an abnormality of mind when they've killed somebody
and their responsibility is diminished, how can anyone ask for more?"
Judge Neil Denison told the jury to put aside any sympathy and decide
on the basis of the evidence, using common sense, whether the case
was one of murder or manslaughter. He added people often went though
a period of "intense unhappiness" when marriages broke
up and many felt "justifiable anger" towards the person
they considered responsible, but "very rarely" did they
kill that person.
Asked for her reaction to Mrs Salmon's comments about an alleged
suicide pact with her children, Dr Helen Whitworth, from Holloway
Prison, said "She has a depressive illness. Suicide ideas are
much more common in people with depression and children are often
regarded as an extension of themselves."
When cross-examined by the prosecuting QC Peter Clarke QC, Dr Whitworth
agreed that a severe depressive episode was not a "licence
The court has also heard evidence from Rena Salmon's sister who
spoke of a ‘difficult childhood’ where the girls experienced physical
and emotional abuse from their mother. Dr Whitworth said she had
made strenuous attempts to corroborate the account of her childhood
but social services records "were not forthcoming" and
that Rena Salmon’s mother had made a statement disagreeing with
her daughter’s claims.
One of the hardest moments of this week for Rena Salmon must have
been when her friend, Deborah Burke, mouthed ‘sorry’ after she gave
evidence for the prosecution. Mrs Burke was very emotional as she
told the court how she had spoken to her friend the day before the
shooting and that that she was "having a rough time".
She claimed that Rena Salmon had said 'I have got a gun. I am not
going to kill her, but shoot her here so she could not have any
more babies. (indicating to her abdomen)”.
After the incident Mrs Salmon is alleged to have said "I only
intended to hurt her like she hurt us. He will never forgive me
now. He will never forgive me now."
A further witness, family friend Bill Sims, told the court that
Mrs Salmon had said she wanted to "exact revenge" after
her husband moved in with Ms Stewart.
May 16, 2003
up for our free weekly newsletter
Salmon takes the stand
Scenes at Rena Salmon trial
and Family pay tribute to Lorna
and Crime in Chiswick
Marris on local crime
notified of local crime through Ringmaster