Knifeman told of 'evil thoughts' before attack

Store killer: Ten life terms for slashing throats of 15 women
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The Independent Online
A former schizophrenic who ran amok in a department store, slashing 15 women's throats, told a psychiatrist shortly beforehand that he felt great aggression towards women, Birmingham Crown Court was told yesterday.

David Morgan, 31, was given 10 life sentences after admitting nine offences of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and one of assault in connection with the attacks at Rackhams store in Birmingham city centre in December 1994.

He was sentenced amid a dispute between his defence lawyers and the National Health Service over whether he was still mentally ill. The judge accepted the view of psychiatrists at Ashworth high security hospital, where he was held pending the trial, that he was not, and sentenced him to prison.

The court was told that in the October before the attack he had visited his GP to complain of evil thoughts in his head about attacking women, but his cry for help apparently went unnoticed. Defence barrister Adrian Fulford QC, said: "If he had been provided with anti-depressants ... there is a real chance that these offences would not have ever occurred."

Morgan, of Aston , Birmingham, had been admitted to the city's All Saints Hospital in 1988 after becoming mentally disturbed following the death of his father. He was diagnosed to be suffering from schizophrenia, hypomania and depressive psychosis. After treatment, however, psychiatrists judged that he had recovered and he was discharged with directions that he should receive support from the community psychiatric team and continue on his course of drugs for three months.

But Mr Fulford told the court: "It appears from the records that effectively there was no follow-up at all."

In 1992 and 1993, he was twice arrested by police for launching unprovoked attacks on women in the street. On both occasions he was conditionally discharged, but the psychiatric services were not alerted and there was no further contact until he visited his GP asking for help in the autumn of 1994.

Details of his rampage in the department store were outlined in court yesterday.

The store was packed with hundreds of Christmas shopperswhen Morgan arrived at 10.15am, armed with a 12-inch butcher's boning knife and another kitchen knife. He later told police he had come to the store "to cut someone".

In the cosmetics department he walked up to a counter and produced a knife, swiping at the neck of an assistant, Debbie Gilbert. She screamed and, realising her neck had been cut, ran to the safety of a nearby office. As panic gripped the store, Morgan continued on his way.

Alistair McCreath, QC, for the prosecution, said that Jan Twining, a customer, was browsing in the cards department. He took her by the shoulder, turned her head and brought the knife across her throat. He said something to the effect of: "There's another one."

Morgan's next victim was handbag assistant Kay Pilkington. He slashed her throat, leaving a wound needing 12 stitches. Moving to the jewellery department, he attacked two more women, chasing one around the store. One of his victims received surgery on a wound to her throat and doctors said the knife had nearly penetrated her windpipe.

Two female security officers who tried to help customers as the knifeman attacked them on the floor, were both injured.

After slashing 15 women, Morgan was finally accosted by police as he wandered around the first floor. Kevin Hart, a civilian scenes of crimes officer, and Sgt Jim Lavery approached Morgan and ordered him to put down his weapon. As he did, both men, one armed with a golf club, tackled him to the floor.

Mr McCreath told the court: "Those who were present were terrified. Those who had been cut were bleeding copiously from their wounds and were in genuine fear for their lives. "

Morgan also pleaded guilty to attacking a psychiatric nurse at Ashworth Hospital while on remand in December last year. He allegedly held a grudge against the nurse and managed to conceal a razor blade before walking up behind him and slashing him across the throat.

Sentencing him, Mr Justice Igor Judge told him: "There can be no doubt that you are an extremely dangerous man. It is certain you must be detained until you cease to represent a risk to public safety - if that time never comes, so be it."

He recommended that Morgan not be put forward for parole before serving at least 12 years in prison.