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Sue Addis death: The question jurors faced after teen stabbed his restaurateur grandmother 17 times


Two years ago, one evening in January, Pietro Addis dialed 999 and told the operator, “I’m calling to turn myself in.” When asked what he had done, the 17-year-old replied simply, “There was a murder.”

When police arrived at the property, they found a woman’s naked body in a bloody bath. Sue Addis, 69, was the grandmother of the teenager he had lived with in her £1.8million home in Brighton.

She had been stabbed 17 times, including four wounds so severe that each was individually life-threatening.

Sue Addis had taken on a mothering role in Pietro’s life after he lost his mother to cancer when he was only six. And of all his family, he would have loved her the most.

All this makes the events that took place in 2021 so incomprehensible.

Sue Addis, 69, was stabbed 17 times at her home in Brighton in January 2021, sustaining four wounds so severe they were all life-threatening in their own right

Why Addis killed his grandmother formed the basis of a two-week trial at Lewes Crown Court that centered on one question: was the teen “bad” or “crazy”?

In the months leading up to the murder, Addis had stopped taking the medications he was prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He had also started smoking cannabis heavily and taking other drugs, including cocaine, MDMA, ketamine, and Xanax, an antidepressant.

Friends noticed a dramatic change in the teen’s behavior. He often missed work and became depressed, withdrawn and paranoid.

His concerned grandmother sought advice from a psychiatrist and elsewhere. On the day she died, she researched how to get him into the Priory chain of psychiatric and addiction clinics for treatment.

Prosecutors alleged that Addis, now 19, knew what he was doing when he attacked her, and that he did so out of anger, before becoming so enraged that he would punch walls or even himself. One theory was that his grandmother suggested that he go for inpatient treatment, causing him to lash out.

Addis, who gave no testimony, admitted to the murder but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, suffering from a temporary paranoid psychosis.

Yesterday, the jury accepted the explanation and unanimously acquitted him of murder. Addis was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing, with Judge Christine Laing KC describing the incident as a “deeply sad and disturbing case” adding: “Ms. Addis was a warm and generous person who supported her family and would do anything for her.” doing. them.’

Ms. Addis's grandson, Pietro, was later arrested by officers

Ms. Addis’s grandson, Pietro, was later arrested by officers

Her family wasn’t just her life – when her brother fell ill in Australia, she flew there to donate her bone marrow – they were also at the heart of a £6million Italian restaurant chain that made her one of Brighton’s most recognizable figures .

As the business’s success grew, it became a cornerstone of the community, with charitable donations and sponsorship from Brighton and Hove Albion FC.

It also had an impressive celebrity clientele, frequented by the likes of Tony Blair, actor Bill Nighy and model Katie Price.

Born in 1939 on the island of Sardinia, Sue’s husband Pietro Addis Snr moved to the United Kingdom as a young man and spent more than ten years working at the Italian Embassy in London, promoting his country’s food and wine.

He identified Brighton as ‘the place to be’ and opened his first restaurant in the city in 1967. Things really took off in the late 1980s when he and Sue opened two great restaurants: Pinocchio and Donatello.

When Pietro retired in 2004, he handed over the management of the company to ex-wife Sue and their three sons – Leo, Stefano and Mikele. By that time, the eldest son Leo had two children – daughter Carmen and Pietro Jnr.

The boy’s childhood was not easy. In 2009, his Spanish-born mother Ana, from whom his father was already divorced, died of cancer. Problems at school followed, with Addis displaying “disruptive and unruly behavior.”

Like his sister, he attended the £25,000 a year Lancing Prep School, but moved to Shoreham College, where he was diagnosed with ADHD in 2018.

He was prescribed the amphetamine-based drug Elvanse, which seemed to help. But the following year, Addis started smoking cannabis, rapidly increasing his use until he smoked one or two joints almost every day.

By early 2020, he had withdrawn from friendship groups, spent most of his time in his room or on the phone, and failed to show up for work and school. His grandmother, with whom he sometimes lived, did her best.

But she confided in friends that the amount of “weed” he was smoking was becoming a big problem. In October 2020, she emailed Dr. Daphne Keen, the psychologist who had diagnosed ADHD in Addis, outlining her concerns.

“He suffers from paranoia and we all get annoyed with him instead of helping him,” she wrote. ‘He still says he can’t do anything without the Elvanse, but you can’t reason with the weed either. Please advise us where to go from here as I don’t want the situation to get completely out of hand.”

Dr. Keen responded, saying she felt he and the family needed “careful and competent guidance… with a therapist who has the right experience.” She recommended a few names to try.

Meanwhile, it continued to deteriorate. Because Addis was not attending school or work, his father took his ADHD medication away, the court heard. Believing the drug was largely to blame for his son’s problems, Leo flushed it down the toilet, leading to arguments.

His friend George Cameron also noticed a change in Addis in the six months leading up to Sue’s death. He said he had become “negative and despondent” and “seemed paranoid.” He understood that Addis was also taking Xanax, as well as Adderall, an ADHD drug.

By then, the teen had moved in with his grandmother permanently, following an argument with his stepmother at the family home shortly after Christmas.

On the day of the murder, Addis told his father that “people followed him.” After he came home from work at Donatello, his grandmother began searching online for treatment for him.

What happened next is unclear, but the defense psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Misch, told the court that after his arrest, Addis had told him five months before the incident that he had become paranoid and was suffering from a paralyzing fear.

The psychiatrist told the court that, in his opinion, at the time of the murder, Addis was suffering from a “transient psychosis” – which “lasted only briefly and resolved without medication.”

But Dr. Duncan Harding, a psychiatrist who testified on behalf of the prosecution, said he found no abnormal mental function that could explain Addis’s behavior. The jury took only six hours to find Addis not guilty of murder. He was convicted of manslaughter in May.

In a tragic twist, Pietro Snr – who remained close to his ex-wife – died in March last year at the age of 83. As for Sue, there is a memorial bench in a park close to her house. It bears a plaque and words that perfectly echo the sentiments of all who knew her: ‘Sue Addis – Simply The Best’.

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