Homeless man John Ward sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering two Big Issue sellers in frenzied Birmingham knife attack

23-year-old pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after killing Wayne Busst and Ian Watson-Gladwish

A man with severe mental health issues who stabbed two Big Issue sellers to death in a frenzied knife attack has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 12 years.

John Ward, 23, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after killing Wayne Busst, 32, and Ian Watson-Gladwish, 31, in an incident in Birmingham city centre on 11 January.

Appearing at Birmingham Crown Court via videolink from a high-security mental health facility Ashworth Hospital today, Ward spoke only to enter pleas to both charges.

Peter Grieves-Smith, prosecuting, described how shocked commuters witnessed Ward plunge an 8in (20cm) knife into both of his victims.

He had met the pair, who were both also drug users, for the first time only a few hours earlier, after getting off a train from London.

Ward approached both men, who were both official vendors of the Bug Issue magazine as they were selling copies.

CCTV showed the three men chatting and walking together in the hours leading up to the deadly attack.

Mr Grieves-Smith said psychiatric experts for both the prosecution and defence had since agreed Ward was a paranoid schizophrenic and this serious mental health disorder lay at the root of his actions that day.

Afterwards, Ward told psychiatrists he had heard voices "screaming in his head", telling him first to kill himself.

He told Dr Panchu Xavier at Ashworth Hospital he didn't want to do anything "but the voices wanted me to kill everyone".

When Ward first arrived in Birmingham he went to a supermarket and proceeded to buy a kitchen knife and some alcohol. Later he acquired a bag of heroin, which he smoked.

Mr Grieves-Smith said Ward's previous history meant he was "was in the habit of carrying a knife for his own protection".

Shortly before 6pm, as Ward stood with Mr Busst and Mr Watson-Gladwish while they sold copies of the Big Issue magazine, he attacked.

He told Dr Xavier that, at this point, "the voices were going mad, screaming at me 'kill yourself'. The voices were saying kill random people."

Mrs Justice Thirlwall, sentencing, told Ward he was considered by psychiatric experts to be an aggressive and, even among the in-patients of Ashworth, an "exceptionally dangerous" man.

"I do not know whether you will ever be released," she said.

"That will be a matter for others."

Additional reporting by Press Association

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore