Woman who suffered ‘childhood trauma’ killed abusive mother who told her to ‘get a life’

A young woman repeatedly stabbed her alcoholic mother to death after being told to “get a life”, a court has heard.

Hanaa Bennis, 22, was suffering from the effects of “childhood trauma” when she attacked Aziza Bennis, 58, in her home in west London on August 15 2022, the Old Bailey was told.

Earlier that day, the two had exchanged a series of text messages, with the defendant saying: “You made me hate my life. U genuinely make me not want to live…”

Her mother replied: “Get a life Hanaa”, to which the defendant responded: “Burn in hell you sour bitch.”

On Thursday, Bennis appeared in court to be sentenced for manslaughter by Judge Nigel Lickley KC.

Opening the facts, prosecutor Ed Brown KC told how Ms Bennis had suffered a “significant number of stab wounds” at her flat in Boddington Gardens (pictured) in Ealing.

Police were called after screaming was heard from Ms Bennis’s flat and the sound of objects being thrown.

Comments were heard including “please stop hurting me” and “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”, the court was told.

Police forced their way into the home and found blood on the wall and floor.

The victim was found in the living room lying mortally wounded in a foetal position. A bloody knife was on a coffee table.

The defendant had a deep cut above her left eye and a puncture wound to her right thigh, said Mr Brown.

She was arrested and taken to hospital for treatment where she became violent and had to be restrained.

Later, a post-mortem examination found her mother had sustained stab wounds to the head, face and arms, with the fatal wound to the right thigh.

In a police interview, Bennis gave a history of depression and self-harm.

In a prepared statement, she said: “My mother attacked me with a knife. I sustained multiple injuries on my body from my mother’s actions. I acted in self-defence.”

Mr Brown said text messages exchanged between the two women earlier on August 15 were “illustrative” of their relationship for some time.

He said: “It is clear that the deceased was an alcoholic and the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the deceased was violent towards her children.”

He went on to say the defendant was “disruptive”, “rebellious”, “drank to excess” and “often went missing” – but added her behaviour was “in large part the result of the abuse by her mother”.

Bennis had denied murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, which was accepted by the prosecution.

On psychiatric reports, Judge Lickley said: “Both doctors agree there are a number of features I have got to consider but the overriding one is complex PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of childhood trauma.”

Mr Brown argued: “The defendant understood the nature of her conduct so she knew what she was doing when she killed her mother – and intended to do so.”

He added that she had stopped taking anti-depressant medication some three months before.

Mitigating, Jeremy Dein KC told the court of a “shocking” history of abuse by Bennis’s mother.

The defendant described her childhood as “hell”. It involved beatings with sandals and belt buckles, black magic, threats to kill a pet hamster and being assaulted with chilli powder, Mr Dein said.

She had been on a child protection register then “bounced around” emergency residential accommodation, homelessness, living in care and later with her grandmother.

Having become pregnant at 18, she enrolled on an Open University course in 2021 but in February 2022 had a “meltdown” due to “unresolved issues from her past”, the court was told.

Mr Dein asserted: “There was an explosion of violence by Ms Bennis which was in effect a release of her frustration and trauma at what she had been subjected to throughout her life.”

The court was told Bennis had written a letter which expressed “remorse”, a “fierce determination to rehabilitate” and a desire to work helping addicts following her release.

Judge Lickley adjourned sentencing to 2pm on January 18.

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