‘Psychotic’ man who beat his grandmother, 76, to death before raping her corpse given hospital order

Donovan Miller, 31, of Plaistow, Newham, admitted killing “frail” 76-year-old Phyllis Grant at her home in east London at the Old Bailey last month.

A “psychotic” man who strangled and beat his “caring” grandmother to death with a vase and raped her corpse has been handed an indefinite hospital order.

Donovan Miller, 31, of Kent Street, Plaistow, Newham, admitted killing “frail” 76-year-old Phyllis Grant at their home in east London at the Old Bailey last month.

Suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, he denied murder, but pleaded guilty to her manslaughter under diminished responsibility.

Miller - who was his grandmother’s primary carer - also confessed to sexually penetrating her corpse via the anus at the hearing on Monday, February 21.

Blood tests found that he had used cocaine and experts agreed he was “psychotic” at the time of offending.

Donovan Miller has been given an indefinite hospital order. Photo: Met Police

Lawyers said anal swabs of the deceased’s body revealed “semen with a complete DNA profile matching the defendant”.

While a “gaping” wound was found on her scalp and she suffered cuts, bruises and fractures.

Miller appeared in court at the Old Bailey today (Wednesday, March 30) dressed in dark trousers and a grey top, with a blue face covering, and spoke to confirm his name.

Doctors told the court Miller was suffering from a serious psychiatric illness or “abnormality of mind”, which reduced his “ability to form reasonable judgement and exercise self-control”.

He is being treated at a secure hospital facility.

Senior Judge Mark Lucraft QC, the recorder of London, sentenced Miller to a hospital order with restrictions, meaning he cannot be released from a secure treatment facility without the permission of the minister for justice, under sections 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act.

Police on the scene in Plaistow, east London. Photo: SWNS

He also gave Miller an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and placed him on the sexual offences register, saying: “It is necessary for the protection of the public.”

Judge Lucraft described the events of Miller’s crimes as “terrifying and appalling”.

He said: “Significant physical suffering was caused to Phyllis, not only the strangling but the blunt force trauma and defensive injuries.”

While his crimes were aggravated by his grandmother’s “age, frailty and the fact she was asleep” at the time of the attack; the offence was “committed under the influence of drugs”; that a “weapon was used”; and that the crimes “took place in her home late at night”.

He added that the subsequent post-mortem “defilement” of Ms Grant, despite being the subject of another charge, was a “clear aggravating factor of manslaughter”.

The judge said despite Miller’s diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia he had some responsibility.

Police on the scene in Plaistow, east London. Photo: SWNS

“I do not find this is a case where sentencing for life is applicable,” he said.

“I’m entirely satisfied that the appropriate way to deal with it is making a hospital order with restrictions.”

Prosecuting, Caroline Carberry QC, told the court three experts had agreed that “at the time of killing his grandmother the defendant was suffering from an abnormality of mind”.

She said Miller made a 999 call on March 25, 2021, the day after killing his grandmother, to report her murder.

She told the court: “He said the person who had been murdered was his grandmother, Phyllis Grant, and that he had killed her the previous night by choking her while she was asleep.

“He said there had been a tussle and that he ‘strangled her for a while and then had to use a vase to knock her out.’ He claimed he had ‘hit her a few times on the head’.

Police on the scene in Plaistow, east London. Photo: SWNS

“When asked by the operator what had brought this on he said: ‘I’m just going to say the truth. I’ve come a long way on my journey and enough is enough’.”

When the police arrived, he was arrested on suspicion of murder and made no resistance.

He then told officers: “I don’t know if this is worth anything, I did rape her as well, for what it’s worth.”

After confirming this had happened after he killed her, he was further arrested for sexual penetration of a corpse.

Ms Grant was found in the living room under a blanket, “kneeling against the side of the bed, face down, with her chin resting on the side of the bed and her arms outstretched”.

She was dressed in a dark navy-blue tracksuit and there was a “large amount of blood around her head, on the bed and on the floor”.

Police on the scene in Plaistow, east London. Photo: SWNS

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers found items inside the flat and in the bins outside including a half empty bottle of red rum, a bloodstained mop handle and bloodstained clothing.

They also discovered a writing pad in the defendant’s bedroom, which had incoherent rambling which said “it’s time to go”, references to Jesus, a cult, a child sex ring, ambush and kidnapping children.

Miller described himself as an “alien” and said he “will leave this life to go back home soon”.

The post-mortem examination of Ms Grant found the cause of death was compression of the neck and blunt force wounds.

Police on the scene in Plaistow, east London. Photo: SWNS

Ms Carberry said the defendant’s mother, Paulette Mason, described her mother, Ms Nelson, who was born in Jamaica and had worked in hospitals in London throughout her career, as “kind” and “caring” and said she “would do anything for her family and others”.

Ms Nelson was “well-thought of in the community and enjoyed gardening, sewing and going to church”, Ms Mason said.

While neighbours described her as a “bubbly and smiley person… with many friends”.

The killer’s sister, Patrice Miller, said her brother was their grandmother’s “main carer” and “ensured she ate healthily” and had updated the family on Ms Nelson’s condition while she was treated in hospital for Covid-19.

Ms Mason, Ms Miller and her brother moved to the UK from Jamaica in 2002, and lived with their grandmother, where he continued living after his mother and sister left the family home.

Police on the scene in Plaistow, east London. Photo: SWNS

Kerim Fuad QC, defending, said: “The defendant is full of regret and sadness for his actions.

“From the moment he rang the police to confess his crimes in such detail, marked the beginning of his journey into understanding that he was mentally unwell at the time and that he had to fully embrace and engage with the psychiatric teams’ help and take the medication they prescribed.

“Not only to come to terms with his acts but to restore him upon his future release, to the law abiding, conscientious, peaceful and calm life he had so successfully led up till then. He had never been in the slightest trouble until his illness consumed him.

“Central to his mitigation and indeed him, attention to understanding what led him to act as he did is not only that he was unwell but that he did not know he was unwell.

“What he did to his grandmother will never leave him.”:

Mr Fuad added: “He would very much like his mother and sister to receive support to help them come to terms with their loss.

“That recognition by him of the impact of his actions and the effect upon them augurs well and is a promising step in the work that is to be done.”

He stressed that Miller had no previous convictions and had worked hard since leaving school, even setting up his own construction company in January 2020, prior to Covid-19.

“These events may well have been a contribution, of placing him under personal financial and emotional stress,” he added.

Miller will remain in the care of doctors at a secure hospital facility.