Mardi bomber `has part of brain missing'

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The Independent Online
THE MAN who admitted last week to being the Mardi Gra extortionist and bomber has part of his brain missing, it was claimed in court yesterday.

Edgar Pearce, 61, of Chiswick, west London, was due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey for a three-year terror and blackmail campaign aimed at Barclays Bank and Sainsbury supermarkets, plus a number of randomly selected companies and individuals in London and the South-east.

But after details of Pearce's condition emerged, the case was adjourned until tomorrow so a neuropsychiatrist could give evidence.

Pearce, who pleaded guilty to a blackmail campaign in which homemade bombs were hidden inside empty video cassette boxes, was remanded in custody by Michael Hyam, the Recorder of London. But the judge warned that Pearce should not raise his hopes of being sent to a hospital under the Mental Health Act, rather than to prison.

Judge Hyam added that there were "very scanty grounds" for thinking that a section under the Act would be appropriate, but he allowed the adjournment to ensure that the defendant received his rights.

Pearce's barrister, Nadine Radford QC, told the court that she had seen two reports from doctors, and had since spoken to one who believed Pearce may be suffering from Binswanger's dementia, a condition in which blood clots cause an area of the brain to die.

Pearce suffered a form of seizure or stroke in 1992, which resulted in a severe personality change. He was unaware of what had happened, but was under the impression that he had been knocked down by a bicycle when he collapsed. The court was told that although doctors had been unclear about what had happened to him, a recent scan had shown that part of his brain was missing.

Ms Radford argued that if he were sent to prison, instead of to a special hospital such as Broadmoor, his condition would deteriorate to dementia and early death. He needed special medical and psychiatric therapy to help him come to terms with his environment, she said.

Earlier, the court was told that Pearce got the idea for his bombing campaign from watching a television programme about a former police officer who tried to blackmail the food company Heinz.

The police caught Pearce after setting up an elaborate trap that involved hundreds of officers watching automatic cash machines. He was arrested in April last year after he attempted to withdraw money from a machine in west London.