Sophie Lancaster killer found guilty of attacking nurse at secure hospital (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Sophie Lancaster killer found guilty of attacking nurse at secure hospital
ONE of Sophie Lancaster’s killers has been found guilty of inflicting grevious bodily harm on a nurse at a secure mental health hospital.
Brendan Harris, 21, who is serving a life sentence for murdering the 20-year-old goth from Haslingden, threatened to kill one of his carers and punched him in the face, breaking his nose.
Sophie's mum Sylvia, who campaigns against hate crime, said Harris had a history of violence and was a danger to the public.
Welcoming the jury's verdict at Preston Crown Court, she said: "He obviously has issues, but he is violent.
“It isn’t the first time he’s lashed out and it won’t be the last.
"If this verdict hadn’t been dealt, he would’ve thought he could get away with being violent to the nurses, the very people who care for him.”
Gap-year student Sophie, 20 was attacked along with her boyfriend Robert Maltby in Stubbylee Park, Bacup in August 2007 and died 13 days later in hospital. Ryan Herbert, from Bacup, was also given a life sentence for Sophie's murder.
Harris was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and moved to Guide Lodge Hospital in Whittingham on 24 October last year, the court heard.
Prosecutor Iain Simkin said Harris became ‘agitated’ when another patient was physically restrained.
The incident, which happened on January 10, began at around 5pm when the patient, referred to as ‘George’, threw a plate of food in the dining area of the medium security Fairsnape ward, some of which landed on Harris.
George was taken, screaming, to the seclusion room, to ‘calm down’, the prosecutor said.
Harris asked staff if he could go to the showers to get clean and they agreed.
He then went to his bedroom, which was opposite the seclusion room, to change his clothes, the court heard.
At 6.30pm, George was still screaming and Harris went near to the seclusion room, where Gary Sloane, a health care support coordinator, was talking to George, trying to calm him.
Mr Sloane told the court: “I asked Mr Harris to move away to give George some privacy.”
Harris moved away from him and into the ward, but a short time later, Mr Sloane noticed the defendant staring at him, and he approached the patient.
Mr Sloane said: “I asked him if he was okay and he said ‘I’m going to kill you’. I asked him where this was coming from and he just kept staring at me and said ‘You should think about how you look at people’. Then I removed myself from the situation.”
Stephen Osbaldeston and John Seddon, both staff nurses, approached Harris.
Giving evidence, Mr Seddon said: “We’re trained to try and de-escalate everything and calm everything down. We asked him why he was so agitated. We offered him to take a walk around the perimeter of the ward, or for some time alone. But he just kept shaking his head and saying ‘no, no’. We asked him if the staff and other patients would be safe if we left and he said ‘no’. We asked him to move to the seclusion area and said to him that if he wouldn’t go voluntarily, we would restrain him.”
After 30 minutes, the nurses decided to sound a handheld alarm system for assistance with restraining Harris.
At 6.55pm, David Timson, a health support assistant, was called to assist with the restraint.
With Mr Timson at the front and Mr Seddon, and Mr Osbaldeston behind him made an ‘arrow formation’, with Mr Timson ready to take his head.
Harris tightened his belt, put up his fists, and when Mr Timson called ‘in’ for them to restrain him, the defendant punched him in the face.
Graham Robinson, defending, said Harris saw ‘insects the size of a fist’ all over the ward every day and has auditory hallucinations, where voices tell him not to trust the nurses.
Judge Christopher Cornwall said: "If a guilty verdict had not been delivered, I am concerned he might have acted in this way to the nurses again."
He thanked the jury, who were not told about Harris' murder conviction for legal reasons but that he has previous convictions for actual bodily harm in April 2007 and grievous bodily harm from August 2007, for what he called a 'hard case'.
Harris will be sentenced on Wednesday.