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Roller skater detained indefinitely after stabbing four in knife rampage
3 September 2020, 15:44
A roller skater who tried to kill three people during a random attack while suffering from a mental breakdown has been detained indefinitely in a psychiatric hospital.
Benjamin Bridgeman, 38, was found not guilty by reason of insanity of attempting to murder three members of the public and also stabbing a police officer.
Bristol Crown Court heard Bridgeman was suffering from a severe psychotic illness when he launched the unprovoked attack in the Knowle area of the city on February 25.
He stabbed Justin Edward, Yedhu Prakash and Robert Day during the rampage along Wells Road.
Members of the public threw road signs at Bridgeman in an attempt to stop him, and one motorist even hit him with his van - but he got up and continued.
Bridgeman, who has had one arm since birth, also stabbed Sergeant Ross Hurwood who had fired a Taser at him.
He was finally arrested when a second police officer arrived and floored Bridgeman with his Taser.
The court heard Bridgeman carried out the stabbings because he believed his family had been killed by aliens and he was trying to save the world.
Psychiatrists agreed he was suffering from a "disease of the mind" at the time. He had been suffering mental health problems since he was a teenager.
Michael Mather-Lees QC, defending, said the case was "born out of the tragedy of mental illness and it is merciful worse did not happen".
He read a short letter written by Bridgeman, in which he apologised for what happened.
"I wish to make it clear that I am very sorry that my mental health got to such a level it resulted in harm to others," he wrote.
"I wish I could change the grief I have caused, not only to the victims but to my friends and family.
"I was suffering from a disease of the mind, there was no malice, just a set of delusional beliefs which led me to hurt innocent people.
"I am going to make sure I take all the help I can and make sure nothing like this happens again."
Bridgeman, of Eva Turner Close, Whitchurch, Bristol, was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order under sections 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act, and will continue to be treated at Wellesley Hospital.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Griffiths said: "It is a miracle no one was killed.
"The first victim was stabbed twice in the back; the second victim would have been stabbed through the head, but he moved his head so that the blade connected with his scalp.
"You skated on. By this time there was panic on the streets as you skated around with blood dripping from your knife.
"At least four brave members of the public threw themselves into the task of trying to stop you, by picking up road signs, sandbags and whatever came to hand on the street, and using them to try and bring you to a halt and get you to the ground.
"Because you had the advantage of roller skates, and appeared to be demonstrating superhuman speed, balance and strength, they did not succeed in stopping you, but only in obstructing you.
"These were terrifying attacks. They had tragically lasting effects on your victims, particularly the civilian victims. They have not only been severely traumatised but continue to suffer physically from their injuries.
"You thought that the people you were attacking were aliens who were in an epic fight of good against evil, with you representing the good.
"You thought that they had murdered your family and subjected them to excruciating pain. For that reason, you are not guilty by reason of insanity."
The judge also issued commendations for four members of the public, and Sgt Hurwood, for their bravery.