Teenager accused of killing grandmother was 'paranoid and depressed'

Teenager accused of stabbing his millionaire restauranteur grandmother to death in the bath had become ‘paranoid and depressed’ before the killing, court hears

  • Sue Addis was attacked by her grandson Pietro, 17, at her £1m Brighton home 
  • He stabbed her 17 times causing fatal injuries to her chest and neck, court heard
  • Afterwards, Pietro Addis allegedly called 999 and said he was handing himself in
  • A court heard today he was a regular cannabis smoker and took other drugs
  • Pietro Addis admitted manslaughter but denies murder at Lewes Crown Court 
  • A teenager accused of stabbing his millionaire restauranteur grandmother to death had become ‘paranoid and depressed’ in the weeks leading up to the killing, a court has heard. 

    Sue Addis, 69, the owner the popular Brighton restaurants – Donatello’s and Pinocchio’s – was attacked by grandson Pietro, 17, in January last year as she lay in the bath at her £1million home.

    In a brutal attack, he stabbed her at least 17 times causing fatal injuries to her chest and neck. He then left her to die in the bath, a jury was told.

    Afterwards he allegedly called 999 and said: ‘I’m calling to hand myself in. There’s been a murder.’

    Today a court heard the now 19-year-old was a regular cannabis smoker and also took other recreational and prescription drugs.

    Samples taken found evidence of ‘recent cannabis use’ as well as ‘heavy regular use’ of cannabis.

    Lewes Crown Court heard that as well as taking anti-depressant, Xanex, and the ADHD drug, Elvanse, tests showed evidence of illegal drug use.

    Samples taken from the teenager showed traces of MDMA, cocaine and ketamine in his body, a jury was told.

    Pietro Addis has admitted manslaughter but denies murder at Lewes Crown Court. 

    Pietro Addis is accused of murdering his grandmother Sue after she was found stabbed to death in a bath at her Brighton home

    Pietro Addis is accused of murdering his grandmother Sue after she was found stabbed to death in a bath at her Brighton home

    Mrs Addis was a hugely respected figure in the Brighton business community and first opened Donatello's and Pinocchio's restaurants in the 1980s

    Mrs Addis was a hugely respected figure in the Brighton business community and first opened Donatello’s and Pinocchio’s restaurants in the 1980s

    Mrs Addis was stabbed to death at her home in Brighton during the Covid lockdown on January 7 last year.

    The jury heard the teenager had been living in Brighton with his father, Leo, and his stepmother, Rainbow, during the lockdown.

    A student at a catering college in Brighton, the court heard he had ambitions to become a chef and worked at the family restaurant.

    But in the months leading up to the killing he had become a habitual cannabis user regularly smoking a couple of joints every day.

    His behaviour started to deteriorate and he began to skip college and often failed to turn up for work at the family restaurant.

    The teenager also started selling items of clothing to friends when he ran out of money.

    His father believed the ADHD medicine he had been prescribed was largely to blame for his son’s problems and said he would flush the drugs down the toilet.

    This led to arguments in the house, the court heard, and in late December, after one particularly bad row, it was decided the teenager would go and live with his grandmother at her home in Withdean, Brighton.

    Mrs Addis was a hugely respected figure in the Brighton business community and first opened Donatello’s and Pinocchio’s restaurants in the 1980s.

    Her three sons Leo, Stefano and Mikele all worked at the restaurants which were among the most popular in the city and attracted celebrities including actor Bill Nighy, Katie Price, Michelle Collins and a host of Premiership footballers.

    Addis moved in with his grandmother but continued to regularly smoke cannabis joints, mainly in her garden.

    The court was told two psychiatrists agreed that the defendant was not suffering from a drug-induced psychosis. 

    George Cameron, a friend of Addis, noticed a huge change in the teenager in the months leading up to the killing.

    He told police his friend had become ‘negative and despondent’ and had also become quite paranoid.

    Police officers outside Mrs Addis' home where she was found dead having suffered 17 stab wounds

    Police officers outside Mrs Addis’ home where she was found dead having suffered 17 stab wounds

    In statement read to court he said: ‘I noticed a big change with him. He was like a different person, negative and despondent with life.

    ‘He told me he had no friends. I felt Pietro was struggling with depression or schizophrenia as he appeared to be hearing voices and believing what the voices were telling him. He was paranoid.

    ‘He was using Xanex and cannabis to ease his pain. I told him I did not like drugs and he should get help.’

    In the days leading up to the alleged murder, Addis was said to have been acting very strangely, the court heard.

    He had begun banging on his grandmother’s bedroom door at night telling her he loved her.

    Rossano Scamardella QC, prosecuting, said that on the day of her death Mrs Addis returned from working at Donatello’s at around 4pm and began searching online for treatment for her grandson.

    Mrs Addis, 69, ran the popular Brighton eateries Donatello's and Pinnochio's which were frequented by stars including Bill Nighy (pictured above with Ms Addis) and Katie Price

    Mrs Addis, 69, ran the popular Brighton eateries Donatello’s and Pinnochio’s which were frequented by stars including Bill Nighy (pictured above with Ms Addis) and Katie Price

    Police officers at the home of Sue Addis in Brighton where she was found dead in January 2021

    Police officers at the home of Sue Addis in Brighton where she was found dead in January 2021

    After the killing Addis dialled 999 and said: ‘There’s been a murder.’

    When asked how it had happened, he said ‘No comment’ but when asked how sure he was that his grandmother was dead he told police ‘100%’.

    He said the jury will hear evidence that the teenager’s behaviour and presentation in the months prior to Mrs Addis death ‘are likely to be evidence of the effects of smoking cannabis.’

    A post-mortem examination revealed 17 stab wounds to Mrs Addis’ body: two to the neck, four to the chest, five to the abdomen, four to the left arm and two to the left leg.

    Death occurred as a result of the stab wounds in the neck and two of the stab wounds to the chest, the court heard.

    Addis has admitted manslaughter but denied a charge of murder.

    The trial continues.