Court detains man without limit after killing his mother in Finsbury Park flat arson

PUBLISHED: 18:23 04 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:23 04 September 2020

Emergency services at the scene last year. Picture: Lucy Brown

Emergency services at the scene last year. Picture: Lucy Brown


A former Network Rail administrator has been detained indefinitely after he admitted killing his mother by setting fire to their home.

Beatrice Yankson died in a flat in her Mingard Walk flat on the Andover Estate. Picture: Lucas CumiskeyBeatrice Yankson died in a flat in her Mingard Walk flat on the Andover Estate. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Beatrice Yankson, 59, died of burns and fumes inhalation after she was pulled from the blaze at a flat in Holloway, in Mingard Walk on the Andover Estate, last year.

Her son Joel Ellis, 36, also suffered serious injuries after he was found unconscious slumped against a bed upstairs.

READ MORE: Murder investigation launched after woman dies in Finsbury Park flat fire

Prosecutor Simon Denison told the Old Bailey that Ellis had obtained a container of petrol a few days before the fire and decanted it into bottles.

Mr Denison said: “He behaved strangely. His mother reported to others she was afraid he was going to harm her.”

On October 26, Ellis removed a smoke detector and used the petrol as an accelerant when he set fire to the flat.

In the wake of the blaze, two Samurai swords, two knives and a blank firing pistol loaded with cartridges were found in Ellis’ bedroom.

Ellis expressed remorse for the death of his mother, saying he intended to kill himself and did not know she was home.

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The court heard Ms Yankson had previously worked as an Imperial College administrator and had been a main carer of Ellis’ brother, who has autism.

She was described as an “outgoing, strong and healthy person” when the Gazette spoke to those who knew her last year.

Ellis had been charged with murder but pleaded guilty to the alternative offence of manslaughter and arson.

The pleas were accepted by the prosecution after psychiatrists agreed he was suffering from depression and schizophrenia.

The court heard his struggles with mental health dated back to 2017.

Judge Richard Marks handed Ellis a hospital order without limit of time.

He told the defendant: “With tragic prescience your mother reported to others she was afraid you were going to harm her.

“You deliberately started a fire in the hallway, up the stairs and landing. Before doing so you had removed the smoke detector.

“Your mother was inside the flat at the time of the fire and was unable to escape.”

The judge said Ellis was suffering “very significant symptoms” of mental illness, including the paranoid belief that he had to burn himself so his body would be destroyed.

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