Songwriter jailed for killing mother, 86, and decapitating her with a sword

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·3 mins read
Tarver, left, was found guilty of murdering his mother Angela, right. (PA/Surrey Police)
Tarver, left, was found guilty of murdering his mother Angela, right. (PA/Surrey Police)

A songwriter who stabbed his mother to death before cutting her head off and putting it in a freezer has been jailed.

Philip Tarver, 47, attacked 86-year-old Angela Tarver with an ornamental sword after taking cocaine and drinking beer and vodka, the Old Bailey had heard.

Tarver, who also put her severed ring finger inside a kettle, answered the front door at the family home in Woking, Surrey to tell officers he surrendered as he wore a woman’s floral negligee and waved a Union flag.

He was jailed for a minimum of 19 years on Thursday, when Judge Anne Molyneux QC said he would not have killed his mother had he not been in a state of acute psychosis.

“It was induced by your voluntary consumption of prohibited drugs – this means that a verdict of manslaughter by diminished responsibility was not afforded to you,” she said.

The court heard that Tarver, a trained clock maker who had lived with his parents for most of his life, relied on their financial support as he pursued his interest in music.

He was behaving strangely on the morning of 19 December last year, saying alcohol was “poisoned” and unplugging the phone and computer, the court was told.

“He was wearing a short transparent petticoat type of thing. He would occasionally wear female clothing,” his father Colin said, adding that his son was behaving in a way he had not seen before.

“He started speaking in whisper. He was whispering about the beer.

“He pointed to the carton, asked me to take it back to the shop.

“He whispered ‘it’s poisoned’.”

Philip Tarver has been sentenced. (PA/Surrey Police)
Philip Tarver has been sentenced. (PA/Surrey Police)

After Colin asked why the TV was also disconnected, Tarver slammed the door and told him to “go and die”, jurors heard.

Colin reconnected the TV to watch Bargain Hunt while Angela, whose mobility and speech was affected from a stroke, had a cup of tea in the kitchen.

He then heard a scream and found his wife on her back on the floor as his son held a sword.

“He looked strange, demented. His eyes were a yellow colour. He said ‘I’ve got to kill you’,” Colin said.

“He did not look normal. I thought he was going to kill me.”

When asked why, Colin said Tarver claimed he had been “commanded” to.

Colin managed to wrestle the sword from his son and went out to call the police.

Angela Tarver was killed in December 2019. (PA)
Angela Tarver was killed in December 2019. (PA)

Jurors were told that when officers arrested Tarver, he heard his father talking to police and said: “Oh, of course, his wife. His wife is in the freezer.”

He apologised “for killing her” and said he “must repent my sins” at the police station, but later claimed Colin killed his mother and framed him, and the apparent confession was instead “mistranscribed”, the court heard.

The son claimed his father had “come at” him, but said he had put her head in the freezer after being shocked by the scene and chased upstairs by Colin.

Alexandra Healy QC, prosecuting, said the accusation Colin had been the killer was “preposterous”, with the evidence pointing to Tarver.

He was also sentenced to 18 months for threatening to kill his father, which will run concurrently with his murder sentence. Tarver was not in court but tuned in via videolink from Belmarsh Prison.

In a statement, Colin said: “I have lost my best friend and the love of my life, she was the light of my life and now that light has gone out, cruelly extinguished.

“There have been nights where I have been unable to sleep and have lain awake replaying the accusations that have been made towards me wondering what on earth I could have done to make Philip say those things about me.”

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