Stephen Cole, 32, has been detained indefinitely
A Schizophrenic Travelodge guest who stopped taking his medication after clubbing a receptionist with a set of clippers has been detained indefinitely.
Marta Vento was ‘completely surprised’ when Stephen Cole launched the attack during her night shift in the foyer of the hotel in Bournemouth, Dorset.
Today it emerged that Cole had been released from prison two months before the December 2020 attack on Travelodge and had a history of violence.
Cole, 32, grabbed the 27-year-old receptionist and then chased her into a niche before repeatedly punching and kicking her to death during the “senseless” attack.
The hotel guest, who suffers from severe schizophrenia, was out of medication and suffered from delusions, including the assumption that “smoke detectors were watching him.”
Doctors who assessed Cole suggested that his seizure was “a sudden and impulsive decision, caused by the way she smiled and looked at him.”
The prosecutor also said Cole had been staying at the hotel, with his bill paid by his parents, only after he was evicted from another after he attacking two guests just days earlier.
Judge Angela Morris ordered the defendant to be held indefinitely under the Mental Health Act, highlighting the “irreversible failures” of those who had failed to notice his worsening psychiatric condition in the weeks before.
Today in Winchester Crown Court, Cole convicts judge: ‘[Ms Vento] was killed by you in what can only be described as a brutal, sustained and horrific attack in circumstances where she was utterly defenseless in the 42 minutes it took you to extinguish her life.
“She died alone, with no one to help or save her.”
Miss Vento’s father has since demanded answers from authorities about how Cole was allowed to carry out the attack.
Receptionist Marta Vento, 27, was ‘completely surprised’ when Cole launched the attack in the hotel foyer during her night shift
‘He has brought the greatest treasure a family can have’: Heartbreaking reaction from Miss Vento’s family
Miss Vento (pictured) was originally from Valencia in Spain
Luis Elena-Blas, Miss Vento’s father, said the death traumatized their close-knit family.
His wife Rosa, Miss Vento’s mother, had such a “powerful bond” with her that they “knew what each other was thinking” and is devastated.
Mr. Elena-Blas said: ‘I have little to say about myself because I am empty, I don’t feel like living.
“We try to preserve the ruins of a happy family.
‘After my first shift’ [back at work] I had a nervous breakdown, I lost my self-esteem and had suicidal thoughts.’
Mr Elena-Blas also shared 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. The youngest girl in a family is gone, they’ve taken the greatest treasure a family can have.’
Miss Vento, originally from Valencia, Spain, was pronounced dead after being found covered in blood by shocked guests at 7:30 am.
Disturbing CCTV played in court showed the ‘protracted’ attack.
Cole, who was seen with the back of his head shaved, was holding a clipper during the attack.
Prosecutor Tom Wright said: “She was totally surprised… There was a lot of blood in the aftermath of the incident.”
Citing evidence from a physician assessing Cole, Mr. Wright added: ‘He suffered from schizophrenia which led to abnormal functioning.
“He suffered from persecution delusions, auditory hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and behavior and that abnormality is said to have affected his judgment and self-control.
‘He [doctor who assessed Cole] suggested it was a sudden and impulsive decision and was caused by the way she smiled and looked at her.
“He was annoyed and believed she looked down on him.
“He thought he was looked down upon by the staff and guests and that seemed to manifest itself in how he behaved towards the deceased.
“He thought the smoke detectors were watching him and people were knocking on his window.”
Mr Wright added that Cole also said the act was a way of alerting emergency services so that “he would get the treatment he needed”.
Cole remained in the foyer for no apparent reason after the attack, returned to his room to tidy up and then reported to Bournemouth Police Station before later being admitted under the Mental Health Act.
Cole told officers, “I just killed someone in a hotel. I think she worked there… I haven’t slept, I haven’t slept in six days.”
Mr Wright said Cole had been checked by a team of delinquents in the weeks before the incident and described as ‘hunted’.
Robert Grey, defensively, said: “Obviously he showed remorse when he went to the police station and told them what he had just done.”
Mr Gray said that when Cole ran out of medicine, he and his father tried to find more, but were unsuccessful.
“He knew he needed it but was having a hard time getting it, he was trying to get it but it wasn’t easy for him,” Mr Gray said.
He added: “There is no doubt that he is suffering from a very serious illness.”
Disturbing CCTV played in court showed the ‘protracted’ attack on the Travelodge in Bournemouth, Dorset
It was heard that Cole was released from prison in October, after being convicted of three indecent exposures in the summer of 2020, and having “difficulty functioning.”
He also had a previous battery violation on his mother in 2018.
Winchester’s Recorder Angela Morris said there were “irreversible failures” leading up to Cole’s “ruthless, persistent and horrific” attack on Miss Vento.
She had “no idea of the fate that would befall her,” Judge Morris said.
Judge Morris said: “She was beaten relentlessly and violently assaulted in such a way that she was unable to breathe while unconscious. She died alone, with no one to help or save her.
How this young woman, who had her whole life ahead of her, came to you on that fateful morning is a combination of circumstances and an irreversible failure of some to recognize the signs of your psychiatric decline, despite you and your father trying to get the antipsychotics you so desperately needed.
“Unfortunately, the warning signs were not heeded in time to stop this tragedy.
“It goes without saying that the consequences for her family are disastrous. They must now pick up the pieces of their ruined lives.
“She was a bright and vibrant person and her loss will be felt forever.”
Judge Morris imposed unlimited tbs. She added: “You will have to be treated in a secure hospital for a very long time.”
Cole, who admitted to manslaughter on partially diminished responsibility, remains at a unit in Fareham, Hampshire.