Nine months after his arrest, Blackwell’s trial began in June 2005 at the Liverpool Crown Court, presided over by judge Mr Justice Royce, with prosecutor David Steer QC.
A team of five psychiatrists examined Blackwell and unanimously agreed that he had Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). People with this disorder typically fantasise about unlimited brilliance, power and success and often fly into an inappropriate rage if their fantasies are challenged or threatened. They are very selfish, with a strong sense of entitlement, needing constantly to be praised and treated like royalty by everyone. The reason NPD sufferers are so convincing to others is that part of them believes their inflated fantasies themselves.
Steer described Blackwell as “a highly abnormal young man”, adding that an NPD diagnosis was unusual for someone of his age. He also stated that there was nothing to indicate that the murders were premeditated.
In a letter that was read out in court, Blackwell had written, “For every moment of every day I wish I could turn back the hands of time. I eternally long to be a little boy again at a time when everyone really loved each other, when we could have a happy time and be a family once more…I miss them more than anything in the world. The guilt will punish and haunt me for 24 hours a day for the rest of my life.”
In an attempt to find a motive for the killings, Steer suggested Blackwell’s parents may have discovered his plans to holiday in America with his girlfriend and tried to stop him. This may have induced a rage that drove him to murder. However, there was only evidence to attest to the fact that Blackwell’s parents were loving and supportive of him.
Due to Blackwell suffering from severe NPD, and despite the fact that, these days, cases of ‘diminished responsibility’ are extremely rare, Judge Royce accepted the plea to drop the charges of murder in favour of manslaughter.
Blackwell admitted manslaughter with diminished responsibility and on 29 June 2005 was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Judge added that, in his opinion, Blackwell would never be fit for release.