A man who stabbed three men on a Bristol street while suffering from an acute mental health episode has been handed an indefinite hospital order.
In February Benjamin Bridgeman was charged with three counts of attempted murder after he attacked three men with a knife on Wells Road, Knowle.
At his trial at Bristol Crown Court a jury was told how, in the days before the incident, Bridgeman had stopped taking his anxiety medication which resulted in him experiencing a psychotic break.
In addition to the attempted murder charges, he also faced three charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, attempted wounding with intent and possession of an offensive weapon.
On Tuesday (1 September) the jury found the 38-year-old not guilty of all charges by reason of insanity. He was subsequently given the hospital order during a hearing at the same court today (Thursday, 3 September).
During the trial, the court heard Bridgeman left his Whitchurch home on a pair of roller skates shortly after 3pm on 25 February, armed with a large kitchen knife.
At approximately 3.10pm he stabbed a 26-year-old man twice in the back as he crossed Wells Road. The victim, having realised what had happened, ran into passing traffic to escape.
Bridgeman then proceeded to cross the road where he attacked another 26-year-old man, striking him on the back of the head with the knife before stabbing him in the back. On this occasion the victim ran into the Post Office where other members of the public held the door shut.
A 50-year-old man who tried to intervene was the third man to be attacked. He swung a road sign at Bridgeman before falling to the floor where he was then stabbed in the hand and leg.
A motorist then struck Bridgeman with his van as he was being chased away from the scene by a group of people.
By that time, police had received multiple 999 calls all reporting a man was randomly attacking people with a knife.
Responding to the calls, Sgt Ross Hurwood and A/Sgt Jeff Palmer found Bridgeman as he fled up Hengrove Road.
They ordered him to lie on the floor but instead, he came at Sgt Hurwood with the knife raised above his head.
Both officers deployed their Tasers until Bridgeman was incapacitated and could be arrested.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector David Lewis: “Incidents in which multiple members of the public are attacked with a knife on a busy shopping street are thankfully extremely rare.
“As the events of 25 February unfolded no one knew Benjamin Bridgeman was in a mental health crisis and unsurprisingly feared the worst.
“We’ve all seen similar incidents happen elsewhere around the world which have later been identified as terror attacks.
“Yet, despite the risks they faced, several members of the public courageously attempted to intervene before police arrived. Their selfless bravery is humbling and if it weren’t for their actions someone could’ve been killed.
“The same goes for the police officers who rushed to the scene armed only with Tasers to locate and detain a man reported to be indiscriminately attacking people with a knife. They, as they all too often do, put their safety at risk in order to protect the public from harm.”
DI Lewis added: “Ultimately, this is a sad case in which a man experiencing a psychotic episode has caused significant physical and emotional harm to others and himself.
“I hope today’s result brings closure for everyone involved and allows Bridgeman to get the support he needs.”
Avon and Somerset Police Federation Chair, Inspector Andy Roebuck, said: “The actions of the public and then of the police officers who attended this horrific incident is commendable.
“This was a terrifying incident which has had a huge impact on all of those involved.
“The officers acted with the utmost bravery in tackling this person and they were able to use their skills and Taser capability to bring this extremely violent situation to a safe conclusion.
“Their professionalism prevented further injuries and possibly the death of others.”