A CHURCH leader from Dawlish was killed by her mentally ill son who recorded himself mutilating her body. 

Bradley Huggins inflicted multiple stab injuries to Hazel Huggins and repeatedly stabbed her, later saying he had done it because he was 'enjoying it'. 

Bradley Huggins
Bradley Huggins (MDA Devon and Cornwall POlice )

Hazel had travelled to her son’s flat in Plymouth in July 2023 to clean it but was attacked and killed by him. 

Mrs Huggins, aged 53, of Ashcombe Road, Dawlish, is survived by her husband Guy who wrote a moving testament in which he ‘fully forgives Bradley’ and still loves him.

He said thousands of people around the world and in their Christian community in Dawlish where they lived had been impacted by her catastrophic death. 

He said he hoped his son’s health would be healed and restored but criticised the mental health care he had received over the last five years.

He said the family felt ‘let down’ and hope he is only released once he is better and not because other people need his bed or because of pressure on budgets.

Mr Huggins said his church leader wife was a ‘bright shining light’ who was much loved and whose legacy will live on. 

Huggins, 25, of Ilbert Street, Plymouth, admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility and was ordered to be detained indefinitely in a mental hospital by Judge Peter Johnson at Plymouth Crown Court.

The judge said it was a ‘sustained and brutal attack’ adding: ‘You are clearly dangerous.’

He said at the time of the killing, Huggins was suffering with delusions that he was being persecuted by a gang exposing him as a paedophile, and that he thought his mother was in league with the gang. 

He said: ‘Your mother loved you and was helping you to live an independent life. She was clearly a lovely lady, a wife, mother and loyal friend.’

The judge expressed his condolences to the Huggins family and paid tribute to the dignified way they conducted themselves in court.

The judge was told by psychiatrists Huggins suffers from a chronic psychotic mental illness and having killed once, he is at risk of killing again.

Prosecutor Christopher Quinlan KC, prosecuting, said Hazel Huggins was killed after going to the flat to help her son clean it. Guy Huggins had returned to pick her up but was not able to get in.

His son told him ‘it was very peaceful’ and that he was ‘sorry’ as his father screamed at the door in ‘absolute terror and sheer helplessness’.

Huggins had hacked off his mother’s right ear, severed the left ear and stabbed her many times inflicting 11cm deep wounds to her neck, chest, back and abdomen.

Mr Quinlan said Huggins said ‘my mother wanted to die and apologised for her sins, I don’t feel bad’. He made a 150 second recording of the attack on his phone and police found a second recording of the ‘desecration of his mother’.

In police interviews he said he initially stabbed her in the back after the money row was the catalyst for his anger and he said he enjoyed it as his mother said: ‘You are killing me.’

The court heard Huggins began smoking cannabis when he was 13 or 14 which may have intensified his mental illness.

Miss Joanna Martin KC, defending, said: ‘Bradley has expressed his remorse for his actions that day and when he is truly well he will have to live with the knowledge of his actions for the rest of his life.’

Devon and Cornwall police issued a statement which set out the exact timings of the killing.

It said Huggins  had asked his mum to help deep clean his flat as he believed he had contracted a contagious infection. She was dropped off around 11.30am by her husband, who arranged to collect her at 4pm.

That afternoon police received two 999 calls. The first was made at 4.11pm by Bradley Huggins who was talking in a low voice, swearing, and not making himself clear.

Four minutes later Guy Huggins called 999 to express concern for his wife who he had been fruitlessly calling since 3.40pm. He had driven to the flat but there was no reply. 

Mr Huggins had also started to receive WhatsApp messages from his son, saying he was sorry and to call the police. While on the 999 call. he received further messages where his son talked of his mother ‘passing peacefully’ and about him being armed with knives in ‘self-defence.’ 

At the same time police had phoned Bradley Huggins following his unclear 999 call. It was then that he confessed to the killing. 

Armed officers forced entry to the flat, finding Mrs Huggins fatally injured.

The knife was located on a coffee table in the living room and Bradley Huggins was standing by the window with his hood up and wearing a surgical mask.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder and admitted to officers that he had killed his mother. 

Detectives from the Force Major Crime Investigation Team launched a murder enquiry. 

In police interview Huggins made a full and frank admission to his actions, saying there had been friction between him and his mother ‘over a mixture of things.’ 

The attack was triggered when Mrs Huggins told him he wasn’t to receive some money he felt was due to him. 

He became angry and turned on her, picking up the knife and attacking her in the doorway of the kitchen and then the bedroom. 

A post mortem concluded that Mrs Huggins died from 11 stab wounds to her neck, chest and abdomen.

Detective Inspector Neil Blanchard from the Major Crime Investigation Team said: ‘This is a terribly sad and tragic case, and our thoughts remain very much with family members who have acted with grace and dignity throughout the investigation.

'We have worked closely with the CPS and independent mental health experts who concluded that Huggins was suffering from schizophrenia when he attacked and killed his mother.

‘I would like to thank the investigation team for their diligence and hard work on this case and I hope today’s outcome brings a measure of peace for the family.’

Mr Huggins paid tribute to Hazel on behalf of the family. He said: ‘Following the sentencing of Brad Huggins today, we continue to grapple with the profound loss of our beloved Hazel, my amazing wife and mother to my two sons.

‘She was a cherished member of our extended family and a precious friend - a beacon of kindness, faith, joy, and love in our community and beyond. Hazel’s radiant spirit touched the lives of many as she lived out her Christian faith.

‘Today we encountered evidence for the first time which we will need time to process as we grieve. The events of July 29, 2023, will forever be etched in our hearts as a day of unimaginable tragedy.

‘The loss of Hazel has reverberated not only through our immediate family but also through our extended network of friends, neighbours, colleagues, and international faith community. 

‘The outpouring of support, both near and far, has been a source of huge comfort during this time of profound grief.

‘Brad's actions were the result of severe mental illness. 

‘We find ourselves sharing a tragic bond with far too many families who have suffered similar bereavements either at the hands of mentally ill relatives, or by strangers known to have serious mental health conditions. 

‘Hazel fought for Brad, she loved him, and she could not have done more to help and support him.

‘We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to Devon and Cornwall Police, the CPS, our police family liaison officers, Victim Support, and Join the Dots Solutions for their unwavering support and dedication throughout this ordeal.

‘I don’t know how people get through events and traumas like this without a faith. In the midst of our deep sorrow, we draw strength and comfort through our Christian faith and the outpouring of prayers and support from around the world.

‘Hazel’s death will never be forgotten, and has impacted many people, but we choose to forgive my eldest son Brad and to advocate for him to receive the medical care and support that he desperately needs. Hazel was, and always will be a bright shining light, loved by many. She was not only my wife, she was also my soul mate, and I miss her so, so much.’