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Mentally ill attacker who stabbed victim in head given four years

By Staff Reporter

A Co Fermanagh man has been jailed for stabbing another in the head during an unprovoked attack.

Jason Spence admitted unlawfully and maliciously wounding his victim with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Outlining the details of the case at Dungannon Crown Court yesterday, a prosecution lawyer said police received a report that a man had been stabbed during a street incident in Cookstown at 2.40am on September 28, 2013.

On arrival police found the victim being tended to by a group of women who had stopped while driving past and were administering first aid.

He had been knifed in the head and was bleeding profusely from a five centimetre laceration that required 10 stitches.

Witnesses told police they had observed Spence (27), of Main Street, Ballinamallard, following the victim along William Street carrying a knife.

An altercation occurred without provocation in which Spence plunged the knife into the victim’s head.

One witness identified Spence, who was located and arrested.

The prosecution pointed out the victim had recovered well.

Defence counsel said his client accepted the charge and it was “fortuitous the injury was not as serious as it could have been”.

He explained Spence has suffered intermittent episodes of paranoia and psychosis, for which he has had numerous admissions to psychiatric facilities.

At one stage he told a probation officer he was “an alien from the star Sirus”.

His Honour Judge Stephen Fowler QC noted: “The defendant seems to have a difficulty taking his medication.”

The defence replied this was true until Spence was remanded in custody, and following a brief transfer to a psychiatric unit where he underwent treatment, he was returned to custody and has taken his medication correctly ever since.

Referring to a psychiatric report, the defence said it is “probable” Spence’s judgment was impaired at the time of the assault, possibly due to schizophrenia.

He concluded: “My client has stated he realises his thinking was all wrong. He deeply regrets stabbing the injured party and knows it must have been devastating for him.”

Judge Fowler said he had studied all the reports and following consideration had decided Spence does not meet the criteria of dangerous as defined by the 2008 Act.

He imposed a sentence of four years in custody, of which half will be served on supervised licence.

On release Spence is to reside at an approved address and attend psychiatric assessment and comply with all treatments. He is also to attend programmes to address drug and alcohol misuse.

Judge Fowler added: “The people who stopped and gave assistant to the victim are to be commended. It was very public spirited.”

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