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MACHETE ATTACK: St Albans man detained in mental health hospital after attack on health worker

 Published on: 18th February 2021   |   By: News Bulletin   |   Category: Uncategorized

A man who launched a machete attack on a community mental health worker is to be detained in a mental hospital.

Philip Purcell, 22, caused serious injuries to both hands of the victim, who had gone to his home in St Albans as part of his job.

The worker escaped and came across an off-duty paramedic while Purcell himself rang the police and talked to them about “demons”, St Albans Crown Court heard today (Thursday, February 18).

In a victim impact statement, read by prosecutor Max Hardy, the man said he had known Purcell for two to three years before the attack, which happened on June 25 last year.

He said: “Immediately after the attack by Philip, I was in a state of shock.

“I had emergency surgery. My hands were out of action for a period. I had to sell my car because I couldn’t drive. My wife had to do everything.“

He said 11 weeks after the first operation the tendon in his right hand ruptured and he had to undergo more surgery. He has been taking anti-depressants, and thoughts of what happened come back to him.

“If the off duty paramedic had not been there, I would have been a goner,” he added.

Purcell, of Irene Stubbings House, Central Drive, St Albans, had been ruled unfit to plead. A jury found that he had carried out the act of wounding with intent. He had 7 convictions for 15 offences, including possessing a blade and battery.

The court heard that he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, personality disorder and cannabis dependency syndrome.

Judge Michael Simon said: “It is clear the defendant, who has a history of mental health difficulties, was suffering from a particular acute episode.

“Having acted in the violent way he did, he rang the police and had a lengthy conversation in which he made reference to the act he had done with a machete.

“He caused very significant injuries to the victim’s hands and body.”

The judge said that since he had been transferred from Wormwood Scrubs prison to the Beech Mental Health Unit, Purcell had responded to “anti-psychotic medication.”

He made a Restriction Order that means Purcell must be detained at the mental health unit.

The judge said: “There is a very clear need to protect the public. It is clear from the very significant impact of this offence and way it was committed that the public do require protection from the potential of serious harm from Mr Purcell when he is unwell.”

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