February 4, 2020 4.07 pm This story is over 50 months old

Double murder trial told Branston student strangled mother and bludgeoned her partner

The murder trial was opened today

A computer software student strangled his mother and killed her American partner with a hammer at their Lincolnshire home, a murder trial jury was told on Tuesday, February 4.

Andrei-Mihai Simion-Munteanu, 22, left the bodies of Leela Monti, 51, and Robert Tully, 71, at his mother’s bungalow on Lincoln Road, Branston, and took Mr Tully’s 4×4 car.

Lincoln Crown Court heard Simion -Munteanu spent several days driving around, first heading south to Salisbury, west to Stonehenge and then to Tintagel Castle.

He then went back north through Wales before going to Scotland.

Dr Monti, who was known as Leela, was reported missing to police after she failed to turn up for her work at a psychiatric clinic in Dudley, West Midlands.

An officer failed to get an answer when she called at Leela’s home in Branston, near Lincoln, and efforts to trace Robert Tully were also unsuccessful, the court was told.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Mr Tully’s Toyota Rav was also missing. It’s route was tracked and was eventually found parked at Aberdeen airport where Simion-Munteanu was lying down inside.

Michael Auty, prosecuting, said: “He was asked if he knew where his mother was. He replied that they should probably talk about this at a police station.

“The defendant said if he told them where his mother was they would arrest him. PC Simon Madden asked why. The defendant then immediately volunteered that he had killed his mother.”

Simion-Munteanu went on to confess in detail how he lured his mother into his bedroom and then placed an oven glove over her mouth and strangled her on the night of July 28 and 29, 2019, the jury was told.

In the morning when Mr Tully woke and could not find his partner the defendant suggested he look in the kitchen.

Simion-Munteanu then repeatedly struck Mr Tully to the back of the head with a hammer fracturing his skull. He died as a result of his injuries.

The bodies of the couple were found at the Branston bungalow when police went back on August 5 and entered through the unlocked front door.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The jury has been told that Simion-Munteanu admits the killings but denies murder.

The defendant, who failed his final exams at the University of Lincoln where he was studying for a degree in computer studies, had been diagnosed with depression and had previously spent time in a psychiatric hospital in the USA when he was working there.

His defence team say he is guilty of manslaughter through diminished responsibility and will call evidence to support this.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

But the jury was told that Dr Philip Joseph, a psychiatrist instructed by the prosecution, said the defendant carried out the killings because he was angry and resentful towards his mother and has a complete lack of empathy towards his victims.

Mr Auty said: “Dr Joseph says this came about because of the way he was and the material he chose to read, specifically nihilistic, literature. That provides the explanation for his behaviour rather than any illness.”

Leela, who studied medicine in Romania, had recently worked as a specialist doctor for Lincolnshire Foundation Partnership Trust from June 2013 until June 2019, working in a mental health unit at Lincoln County Hospital, and was also a staff governor.

Andrei-Mihai Simion-Munteanu, 22, of Lincoln Road, Branston, denies the murders of Leela Monti, 51, originally from Romania, and Robert Tully, 71, originally from the United States between July 27 and August 6 2019.

The trial continues.