Covered in blood, George Harrison thought to himself: 'I truly believe that I am dying'

By Terri Judd
Wednesday 15 November 2000 01:00

George Harrison and his wife came close to being killed by a frenzied knifeman who thought he was on a mission from God when he broke into their home, repeatedly stabbed the former Beatle and beat him senseless with a table lamp.

George Harrison and his wife came close to being killed by a frenzied knifeman who thought he was on a mission from God when he broke into their home, repeatedly stabbed the former Beatle and beat him senseless with a table lamp.

Harrison's description of the terrifying night an obsessed fan penetrated the sophisticated security system of his Oxfordshire mansion, was heard for the first time yesterday as his attacker Michael Abram went on trial.

Nearly 20 years after fellow Beatle John Lennon lost his life to Mark Chapman, Harrison believed he was going to suffer the same fate.

"There were times during the violent struggle that I truly believed I was dying," he said in a statement read out to a packed Oxford Crown Court yesterday.

The jury heard how the guitarist and his wife fought valiantly with the eerily silent and strong attacker. As the musician lay bleeding from a stab wound, his injured and exhausted wife, Olivia, fought on.

"There was blood on the walls and blood on the carpet and this was the moment I realised that we were going to be murdered and that this man was succeeding in murdering us and there was nobody else there to help," she told the court yesterday.

Though her husband chose to stay away from the trial, Mrs Harrison, 52, turned up to give evidence yesterday along with the couple's son Dhani, 22, flanked by bodyguards.

Abram, his long curly hair now trimmed into a short blond crop, sat in the dock dressed in a pinstripe suit and tie, arms folded as the evidence was laid before the court. The jury were told that he had pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder on the world-famous musician and his wife.

Prosecutor Simon Mayo explained that there was no dispute that the 34-year-old had broken into the house and attacked Harrison and his wife, intending to kill them.

"The central issue for you to resolve is whether at the time of that incident, the defendant was sane or insane," he explained. "The defendant apparently believed that he was being possessed by George Harrison and he had been sent on a mission by God to kill him."

The court heard how Mrs Harrison was awoken shortly after 3.30am on 30 December last year by a terrible sound of crashing and woke her husband, convinced that somebody was in the house.

Clad only in his pyjamas and boots, Harrison descended into the darkness of the ground floor, feeling the rush of cold air from a broken kitchen window. Noticing a broken piece of a George and the Dragon statue the couple had in a conservatory, he moved to that part of the house to find another shattered pane of glass.

"I could smell cigarette smoke and knew someone was or had been in the house," Harrison said.

He returned upstairs to a sitting room connected to the couple's bedroom where his wife had called a member of their staff, living in one of the lodges in the 34-acre grounds of the 120-room house in Henley on Thames, as well as the police.

The couple said they had heard the "terrifying" sound of someone walking on broken glass downstairs. Harrison, 57, re-emerged on to the gallery outside their bedroom to see a man running out of the kitchen, armed with a knife and a pole taken from the statue. "He stopped in the centre of the room on seeing me, then started to shout and scream," said Harrison.

"He was hysterical, frightening in his manner. He was saying something like, 'You get down here'."

In an attempt to disorientate his attacker, the musician shouted back: "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna."

Abram raced up the stairs and Harrison tried to flee into a room but found it locked. He decided to fight back, aware, he said, that his wife and mother-in-law were both in the house and "vulnerable".

He tried to grab the knife and crashed to the floor in the ensuing struggle. "At this point, he was on top of me and stabbing down towards the top part of my body with the knife," he explained in his written statement.

Mrs Harrison grabbed a small brass poker and began to hit her husband's assailant over the head, causing him to turn on her and grab her by the neck. The musician struggled to his feet and rushed after them.

The three of them fought, collapsing on to meditation cushions in the sitting room. Abram then turned back to Harrison. "I couldn't get the better of him and he was on top of me at this point. I felt exhausted and felt the strength drain from me," he said.

As he tried to throw the knife out of reach, his arms went weak and fell by his side, leaving him helpless and unable to defend himself.

Harrison said: "I vividly remember a deliberate thrust of the knife into my chest and immediately felt my chest deflate and felt blood enter my mouth. I believed I had been fatally stabbed."

Mrs Harrison explained she then grabbed the lamp and began hitting Abram over the head. Her husband was imploring her to 'hit him more', she explained.

Once again, Abram turned on her, grabbing the light's flex and swinging it, slashing her across the forehead.

Too exhausted to fight further, she fled downstairs, convinced they were about to be killed. At that point two police officers arrived, saving them from further attack.

Abram, covered in blood from a head wound, surrendered to police. As the Liverpool man was led off to hospital, it's alleged he mumbled to the officers: "I did it, I did it."

Later, the court heard that the musician had suffered multiple stab wounds, in particular two large punctures in his chest which caused a lung to deflate. His wife had to have stitches to a gash to her head and was deeply bruised.

The case continues.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments