Schizophrenic Travelodge guest, 27, who battered receptionist to death had been released from jail two months before

Schizophrenic Travelodge guest, 27, who battered receptionist to death had been released from jail two months before

06/01/2021

A TRAVELODGE guest who battered a receptionist to death had been released from jail two months before, a court heard today.

Schizophrenic Stephen Cole, 27, battered innocent Marta Vento to death in a "senseless" attack that lasted 42 minutes.



A court heard that Cole, 32, had grabbed the 27-year-old receptionist before chasing her into an alcove and  repeatedly punching and kicking her to death during the “senseless” assault.

Hotel guest Cole, who has severe schizophrenia, had run out of his medication and suffered from delusions including believing '”smoke detectors were surveying him”.

Doctors assessing Cole suggested his attack at Travelodge in Bournemouth, Dorset, in December last year “was a sudden and impulsive decision and caused by the way she smiled and looked at him”.

Winchester Crown Court heard that Cole had been released from jail two months before the attack, had previous offences of violence, and was staying at the hotel having been kicked out of another.

Miss Vento's father accused the hotel chain's management of safeguarding “failures” and demanded answers from authorities as to how Cole was allowed to carry out the attack.

Miss Vento, originally from Valencia in Spain, was pronounced dead having been found covered in blood by horrified guests at 7.30am.

Distressing CCTV played to Winchester Crown Court, Hants, showed the “prolonged” attack. 

Cole, who could be seen with a shaved back of his head, was holding a pair of hair clippers during the assault.



Prosecutor Tom Wright said: "She was taken entirely by surprise… There was a lot of blood in the aftermath of the incident."

Citing the evidence of a doctor who assessed Cole, Mr Wright added: "He was suffering with schizophrenia which led to abnormal functioning.

"He was suffering persecutory delusions, auditory hallucinations and disorganised thinking and behaviour and that abnormality would have impaired his judgement and self control.

"He implied it was a sudden and impulsive decision and caused by the way she smiled and looked at her.

"He was annoyed and believed that she looked down on him.

"He thought he was being looked down on by staff and the guests and it seemed to manifest in how he behaved to the deceased.

"He thought that the smoke detectors were surveying him and people were knocking on his window."

Cole remained in the foyer for no apparent reason after the attack, returned to his room to clean himself up, then reported himself at Bournemouth police station and was later sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Cole told officers: "I haven't been getting any sleep, I've had no sleep in six days."



Luis Elena-Blas, Miss Vento's father, said the death has traumatised their tight-knit family. 

His wife, Miss Vento's mother, had such a “powerful connection” with her that they “knew what each other was thinking” and has been left devastated.

Mr Elena-Blas said: "I have little to say about myself because I'm empty, I have no desire to keep living.

"We try to keep the ruins of a happy family still going. After my first shift I suffered a nervous breakdown, I've lost my self esteem and had suicidal thoughts."

Mr Elena-Blas also told how he wants to “identify the people responsible for protecting Cole and allowed him to carry out that attack”.

Miss Vento's brother, Luis Elena Vento, added: "I have no words to describe the pain I have endured. It's one of the worst forms of torture I can think of.

"Nothing will ever be the same again. A family's youngest girl is gone, they have taken the greatest treasure that any family can have."

Robert Grey, defending, said: "It's plain he demonstrated remorse as he went to the police station and told them what he had just done."

Mr Grey said when Cole ran out of medication he and his father tried to source more, but couldn't.

"He knew he needed it but ran into difficulties getting it, he did try and get it but it was not easy for him. There's no doubt that he suffers from a very serious illness."

The court heard that Cole was released from prison in October, having been convicted of indecent exposure, and "struggled to function". 

He also had a previous offence of battery on his mother.

Cole, who admitted manslaughter on the basis of partial diminished responsibility, will be sentenced this afternoon.

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