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Killer van driver held in hospital

A paranoid schizophrenic who ran down and killed a mother of three in a hit-and-run frenzy aimed at killing many more has been detained in a secure hospital indefinitely.

Matthew Tvrdon, 32, turned a three ton van into a weapon and mowed down Karina Menzies, 31, in a deadly 30-minute spree in Cardiff, south Wales.

A high court judge at Cardiff Crown Court sentenced him to be held indefinitely in a maximum security hospital for people suffering mental illness. It follows the acceptance of a guilty plea from Tvrdon to manslaughter through diminished responsibility for the death of Ms Menzies.

Tvrdon sped through a Cardiff suburb as he suffered severe paranoid delusions and hallucinations in October last year. In a lethal fantasy he targeted strangers who he believed had conspired to undermine his mental health over years of plotting.

During 30 minutes of mayhem in the city's Ely and Leckwith districts he attacked five separate groups of people, parents with children, in his van. Eighteen people were injured in the devastation he caused, including a police officer assaulted with a crook lock as he tried to arrest him

Many of the victims and their families listened as the judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams summed up on the second day of the sentencing in Cardiff. Several reacted angrily as sentence was passed. "Is that all he's having," one man shouted as he left the court. "They should have put a gun to his head," a second man said, as he also left the court.

Tvrdon appeared at the hearing via videolink from Ashworth high security psychiatric hospital in Maghull, Merseyside, where he will now be detained. He sat in silence throughout the hearing and did not react as sentence was passed.

"Eighteen people were directly affected by your actions - but they have had a much wider impact upon many more," the judge said. "You caused incalculable harm to many people. But I am satisfied that without your serious mental illness you would not have behaved in the way you did.

"I will make a hospital order that you are detained without restriction of time. You will be released from that institution if a mental health tribunal sees fit that you should be released However, you should expect that you will be detained for a very long time."

His admission of Ms Menzies' manslaughter was accepted by the prosecution on Wednesday. He also admitted seven counts of attempted murder, two counts of causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent, and two of attempting to cause GBH. He admitted five counts of actual bodily harm, one of common assault and one of causing death by dangerous driving.

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