A man who stalked two young campers in a woodland before attacking them with a hunting knife has been handed a psychiatric detention order.
Joshua Hallows, 22, watched Zaak Murphy and Bradley Mottershead, who were then 17 and 20, from a bush as they mended a hut they had built in a wooded area near Stockport, Greater Manchester, in September 2020
After a brief confrontation he stabbed Zaak in the neck before turning on Bradley, stabbing him twice, in one case through his shoulder and out of his back, Manchester Crown Court heard.
Bradley was then pinned down to the floor and had to grab the blade with his bare hands to stop it plunging into his throat, Manchester Crown Court heard.
The friends managed to fight their attacker off and get help from a house nearby.
A collection of 9 ornate blades including daggers and swords was found in Hallows’ bedroom, while a search of his phone revealed an obsession with bushcraft and serial killers.
The 22-year-old, who had been gone from his mother’s home for so long that she reported him missing,
Bradley, who needed 72 stitches, said: ‘I didn’t understand what was going on – he was just speaking normally to us, asking us our name and where we were from, and the next minute he just switched. The whole thing lasted less than two minutes.
‘I’m 100% convinced he was trying to kill me. Now we both only go out with each other and we only go to places where there are lots of people.
‘We try to talk about it a lot and we try to have a laugh about it, so it doesn’t seem as bad but I don’t sleep much.
‘It was like something off the television rather than real life. It was unimaginable.’
A psychiatrist found Hallows’ behaviour was ‘directly related’ to his being on the autism spectrum, which had never been diagnosed before the incident.
The court heard his symptoms were ‘exacerbated’ by a childhood of ‘social isolation’ as he was home-schooled, which also contributed to the delayed diagnosis.
Dr Andrew Collier said: ‘[The defendant] had developed a sense of grievance to the world around him which was occupied with violent intent
‘Then the research and development with a significant interest into offensive weapons, then planning to attack the two victims.
‘This was clearly an abnormal pattern of thinking embedded with the autism spectrum disorder which led to the offence.’
Defence counsel Henry Blackshaw said: ‘He was home schooled until his mid teens and would have been socially isolated.
‘This is a very sad case for someone who is very ill, someone who has not been diagnosed through no fault of parenting but through the circumstances of being at home.’
Hallows, who is currently residing in Edenfield Hospital, Prestwich, was made subject of a hospital order under section 37 of the Mental Health Act after pleading guilty to two counts of causing wounding with intent.
Judge Patrick Field told him: ‘Your release from hospital will not be likely until your release is authorised by a mental health tribunal.’
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