Manchester Arndale shopping centre stabbing spree attacker detained

- BBC News

Manchester Arndale shopping centre stabbing spree attacker detained

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A knifeman who stabbed five people at random in a shopping centre has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Shoppers ran for their lives and dived for cover when Raphael Chevelleau caused "widespread panic" in Manchester Arndale in October 2019.

A court heard he injured three people and attempted to hurt two more as he dashed through the shopping centre.

Chevelleau, 43, previously pleaded guilty to three counts of wounding with intent and two of attempted wounding.

He was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to an indeterminate hospital order, meaning he will be detained in a secure hospital and will only be released with Home Office approval.

Chevelleau suffers from a schizophrenic illness which has been resistant to treatment, the court heard.

He was admitted to hospital in 2006 for psychiatric reasons, while his mother said he was diagnosed in prison with schizophrenia when he was 21.

The court heard Chevelleau caught a bus to the Arndale after buying a kitchen knife for £1.50 from a shop near his flat in Rochdale Road, Blackley, on the morning of 11 October 2019.

"With no warning he broke into a run, wielding the knife and randomly stabbed five members of the public," prosecutor Andrew Ford said.

"He caused widespread fear and panic among the general public visiting the Arndale centre that day and a sense of pandemonium as people fled."

The court heard Chevelleau dumped the knife in a bin on the street after his spree, which lasted one minute and 27 seconds.

His first victim was a 61-year-old engineer who was stabbed in the back, before he then attacked a 35-year-old woman walking with her husband who was grazed.

The woman later recalled how Chevelleau had a "wide cheesy smile" as he attacked her.

He next targeted a 45-year-old woman pushing her baby in a pram, who had a lucky escape as the knife came close to her ribs.

Chevelleau also stabbed a 21-year-old woman, who was visiting the city from Ireland with friends for an 18th birthday celebration, in her right shoulder and right bicep.

In a statement, she said: "The man was looking right through me and looking as if he really wanted to hurt me."

Chevelleau attacked his final victim, a 52-year-old female department store worker, as he ran out of the Arndale.

Mr Ford said only the layers of her clothing, including a bubble coat, meant she was not more seriously wounded.

Police said none of the injuries were life-threatening but the man has since had the use of his right-hand severely affected and all the victims have been offered support for psychological harm caused as a result of the attacks.

Chevelleau was initially held under the Terrorism Act but counter-terrorism detectives found no ideological motive for the attacks.

He was deemed by medical specialists to be initially unfit for interview and has been in a secure hospital ever since.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Martin Lock told the court he thought it was "highly unlikely" Chevelleau would have committed the offences if he had not been suffering from schizophrenia.

He said there was "a wealth of evidence" that - unknown to medical practitioners and family members - his mental state deteriorated ahead of the stabbings.

The judge said that if Chevelleau did not suffer from mental health problems, he would have received a life sentence with a minimum term of 15 years.

Det Ch Insp Clare Devlin said: "The shock, fright, and pain - both mentally and physically - that Raphael Chevelleau inflicted on the five victims that day cannot be understated, and Im sure the majority of those who were in the city centre that day vividly remember how they felt when these attacks were taking place."

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