A paranoid schizophrenic who stabbed a work colleague in the neck because he thought he was an MI5 agent was ordered to be detained in hospital for an indefinite period yesterday.
Belfast Crown Court judge Mr Justice Hart ordered that 24-year-old Lewis Alexander Mawhinney be detained in hospital indefinitely because of the danger he believed he “poses to others at present... because of his reluctance to take medication”.
The judge added that his sentence did not mean Mawhinney, from Knockburn Drive in Lisburn, will spend the rest of his life in a secure psychiatric unit, but rather the decision on whether he will be ever released “must ultimately be one that can only be made on the basis of a lengthy period of psychiatric observation”.
Last month a jury found that Mawhinney was not guilty of stabbing Stephen Hayes by reason of insanity, but found he had done the act. Originally charged with attempting to murder Mr Hayes, the prosecution proceeded with a count of wounding with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, in light of the medical evidence compiled on Mawhinney.
During the short trial, the jury heard that Mawhinney and Mr Hayes had been attending an induction course for a Belfast call centre on 21 September last year.
Mr Hayes was in the lift when Mawhinney jumped in as the doors closed and “without warning,” raised his right hand and stabbed him twice in the neck.
Although Mr Hayes defended himself by kicking at Mawhinney and getting him in a headlock, he reached up and stabbed him in the neck again before the lift stopped and two colleagues were able to disarm and restrain him until the police arrived.
Giving evidence, Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Gerard Loughry said that at the time of the attack, Mawhinney was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and would not have appreciated that what he had done was morally or legally wrong.
He said Mawhinney had claimed that while studying modern languages at Oxford University, he had been recruited by MI5 secret service and when he stabbed Mr Hayes, he was acting in accordance with instructions given by his handler.
Mr Justice Hart said there was no doubt Mawhinney had been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia from at least 2006.
The judge described the case as “sad and tragic” for Hayes and Mawhinney who has “outstanding ability, whose life has been blighted by ... this condition”.