The daughter of 58-year-old Mandy Houghton who was killed by her neighbour, Alan Fare, in an unprovoked, unlawful attack, has spoken of her family's devastation.

Donna Woods bravely took to the witness stand at Preston Crown Court on Thursday after a jury found the now 74-year-old guilty of the act of killing her mother on June 3 2020. 

Ms Woods told the court: "This statement is about my mum.

"On Wednesday June 3 the lives of my family changed forever as she was brutally attacked and killed in her own home.

"I sent my mum a message that morning to tell her the price of something she had bought had gone down, and had a joke about it.

"She sent a laughing emoji back to me and that was the last contact I had with her.

"I tried to contact her later but didn't get a reply. I know now that at that time she was probably dead or dying.

"My mum has two daughters. I am the oldest and Gemma is younger than me. We are a very close family.

"My mum and dad separated and remained on good terms, but when the marriage broke down she moved away to Felixstowe, but in 2015, Gemma had a car accident and she came back up to look after her for a few weeks.

"It was during this time that she realised she missed us all and she decided to move back up to Nelson.

"We were all so happy she was living back locally and there were always members of our family going round to her flat.

"On the day of her death Gemma saw the air ambulance landing and went to see what had happened, not thinking it was anything to do with us.

"Then she saw the police near my mum's house.

"We went to the police station and were told that a woman's body had been found.

"It didn't seem real that it was happening to us, to my mum, who would do anything for anyone.

"We all suffered lack of sleep as well as struggling at work.

"It was hard driving past her house. And the hardest thing I have had to do is explain to my two children that their grandma is dead.

"My eldest son got access to Google and found out what happened to his grandma. He now gets very angry and lashes out, so much so that I have had to seek help from the school.

"My little sister Gemma had a little girl some years ago, but she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died not long after she was born.

"The death of my mum on top of that has been too much to take.

"The court process has also not been easy, but to see the man who killed my mum sitting there without a care in the world is hard.

"I don't think we can recover from this and I don't think we will be able to fully rebuild our lives.

"We are all extremely grateful that the defendant has been found guilty.

"We do not however feel that we have got true justice as this does not change the fact that Mandy has gone forever and we will never be able to forgive the defendant for destroying all our lives.

"Our world has fallen apart but we know that Mandy would want us to try and pick up the pieces and we hope that she is looking down on us knowing that we have done the best we can for her."  

In sentencing Fare under section 37 of the mental health act with section 41 restrictions, meaning he will be detained in Guild Lodge indefinitely under strict medical supervision, His Honour Judge Robert Altham said: "It is clear from Ms Woods' victim personal statement that the family is a close and loving extended family.

"There was always going to be a very significant affect on the family but Ms Woods statement just reminds us of the effects caused by sudden violent deaths like these.

"It's not just immediate family affected by all this, the shock has reverberated throughout all the generations of this family.

"This family was already struck by the the loss of a child, and were now struck again by the brutal act on the part of Alan Fare.

"We got an impression of Mandy Houghton during the proceedings, and it's the bitter irony in this case, that involved her taking care of the people around her, not just her family, but those who lived around her.

"She was kind and neighbourly, someone who put herself out to help those who lived around her, but the bitter irony is that one of those she helped was the defendant.

"When she noticed the defendant was suffering during the first lockdown she did not only offer him help but tried to get him help.

"Of course, the manner of her death is something the family will never come to terms with. It was a violent and brutal death.

"The evidence in the case was absolutely overwhelming. It's clear that Fare's mental health was deteriorating and had been for some time.

"He went to his neighbour and he harboured bizarre delusions which started him against her, and the evidence suggests that she opened the door to him and he came into her house and found the weapon in the house and started about killing her.

"Having done that he left the house, locked the door and hid the key. He went into Burnley and flagged down a police officer and directed the police to where she was but by that time it was far too late."

Judge Altham said having borne in mind the extensive psychological evidence in respect of Fare, it was clear that he had mental health difficulties, going back some years, even as far back as the 60s and 70s.

He said that these continued to develop and on the day he killed Ms Houghton it was clear he was harbouring bizarre and unreasonable delusions.

Judge Altham added: "It was hoped the treatment he has been offered would help him make a significant recovery, but that wasn't so.

"A diagnosis was made as a form of dementia with some kind of psychosis overlap.

"The dementia is going to get worse and from which he will never recover and will prove terminal.

"I am satisfied that he is suffering from a mental disorder of a nature that makes it appropriate for him to be detained in a hospital for medical treatment.

"The most suitable method of dealing with him is by scetion 37 of the mental health act.

"He is always going to be a significant risk unless an order of restrictions under section 41 of the mental health act are made, and in this case a section 41 will be made and he will be detained and properly supervised."

Det Ch Insp Gareth Willis, from Lancashire Police's Force Major Investigation Team, said: “This is an utterly tragic case that saw a much-loved mum, sister and grandma taken far too soon.

"Mandy was a caring and compassionate lady who had often helped out her neighbour Alan Fare.

"But in the weeks leading up to her death she had become concerned about Alan, confiding in her family that on occasions his behaviour was becoming odd.

“The exact circumstances leading up to and surrounding Mandy’s death are not clear as due to his medical condition Alan Fare has not provided any account of what took place or why.

"That said the Jury have concluded they are satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that he is responsible for her death.

“Sadly, this verdict provides no relief from the tragic loss that Mandy's family and friends have suffered.

"They have remained incredibly dignified throughout this investigation and my thoughts remain with them at this incredibly difficult time.”