A British man convinced of a QAnon conspiracy that a shadowy group was going to abduct him and his children was sentenced to 10 years in jail Monday for trying to murder his pregnant partner with a hammer while she was taking a bath.
Anthony Beckett believed there was a Chinese government plot to abduct him, his partner, and their two children, and that former president Donald Trump was the only person who could save them.
Beckett, 33, also believed that a “great reset” would take place on Jan. 20, the date of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and a date that QAnon adherents had marked as a red line for when Trump would finally unmask the deep state and show the world that the conspiracy theories about a global pedophile ring had been true all along.
But Beckett, who lives in the northern England town of Middlesbrough, decided he couldn’t wait until Inauguration Day. So on Jan. 18, while his pregnant partner was taking a bath, he took a hammer and hit her in the head four times before putting his hands around her neck and strangling her.
“I need to do this, I need to do this,” Beckett repeated as he forced his partner’s head under the water, according to court documents reviewed by VICE News.
Beckett had a history of mental health problems, but he hadn’t been prescribed medication for over a year and he’d been consuming up to two grams of cannabis a day, the court documents said.
His paranoia ramped up significantly after he became obsessed with the U.S. election and the false QAnon claims about the results being fraudulent. Beckett also became obsessed with the QAnon conspiracy that a great revelation was about to take place, and even told his partner that if nothing happened on Jan. 20, he would get himself committed for psychiatric evaluation.
But his belief that some shadowy force was threatening him and his family grew so great that he could no longer wait, and he took matters into his own hands.
Three days before Beckett attacked his partner, they found out she was pregnant. On the night of the attack, their two children, aged 7 and 9, were in bed when his partner decided to take a bath.
After a while, as she put her head under the water to rinse her hair, Beckett burst into the bathroom and began hitting her with a hammer. “She described it like a wrecking ball to her head. She described his attack as unrelenting with the clear aim of killing her,” the prosecution said in the court documents.
Beckett then began strangling her, holding her head under the water. At this point, she called out to her children as she was afraid Beckett had hurt them. The couple’s older son responded and came into the bathroom and she told him to call the police. But Beckett grabbed the phone from him and threw it away.
Even when his partner lost consciousness at one point, Beckett remained on top of her in the bath. When she woke up, she continued to fight back and managed to get out of the bath, screaming for help out of the bathroom window.
She ran downstairs and managed to get out of the house, running naked into the street and calling for help.
When the police arrived and arrested Beckett, he shouted, “The great reset is coming. They’re coming for the kids.”
Beckett pleaded guilty to attempted murder and on Monday at Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Announcing her sentence, the judge said Beckett’s mental health issues had been a contributing factor in the attacks.
"At the time of committing this offense, you were suffering from a brief psychotic disorder or cannabis induced psychotic disorder,” Judge Penny Moreland told the court, according to a report from the Northern Echo. “You were aware of the risk of drug-induced psychosis."
Beckett’s solicitor Jonathan Walker declined to comment on the case, citing client confidentiality.
QAnon is a conspiracy theory that claims Trump is waging a secret war to unmask the deep state and a global pedophile ring being operated by Democrats and Hollywood elites. While it is deeply rooted in U.S. politics and has its biggest support base in the U.S., it has found significant traction in other countries as well.
In Europe, there are significant pockets of QAnon support in Germany, Italy, and France—where the government has even ordered an investigation into the rise of the conspiracy movement.
But it is in the U.K. where QAnon has found its biggest audience outside the U.S. Several high-profile QAnon influencers are based in the U.K. and the conspiracy theory has also merged with anti-vaxxer and anti-5G groups across the country.
While QAnon followers insist it’s a non-violent movement, there have been increasingly troubling incidents of QAnon believers acting violently on their beliefs. The FBI even warned last week that these violent acts are likely to increase as QAnon’s predictions fail to materialize.
As well as the high-profile role QAnon followers played in the Capitol insurrection, there have been a number of tragic situations in which individuals have used QAnon conspiracies to justify their actions.
In April, a California woman drowned her three young children and claimed she was protecting them from a pedophile ring she believed was operating in her area. And in February, a New Hampshire woman whose family said she believed in QAnon conspiracies set fire to her own home with her children locked inside.