A MENTALLY ill man shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he stabbed a worker in the eye at Atherton Library and injured two others.

Gareth Lucas had walked into the York Street building on the morning of October 26 last year as it was being cleared ready for a move to Atherton Town Hall.

Bolton Crown Court heard how the 39-year-old, who later claimed to have been following signals from car windscreen wipers, picked up a three inch bladed knife and scissors which had been kept behind the library counter.

Leigh Journal:

Police outside the York Street buiding

Leigh Journal:

Forensics officers outside a neighbouring business on Bolton Road

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Police at the scene

Lucy Wright, prosecuting, told how Lucas, with the knife and scissors in his hands, made his way to a store room where council workers Kevin Rimmer and Rebecca Woods, along with contractor Richard Pittindrigh, were looking for a set of keys.

“The defendant entered the room and those three individuals described having seen him enter and hearing the defendant shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ ,” said Miss Wright.

“He placed his hands upon Kevin Rimmer’s shoulders and immediately proceeded to stab him in the head and into the eye.

“Having stabbed Mr Rimmer he immediately proceeded to turn his attention to Miss Woods who he stabbed twice into the top of the head.”

He then stabbed Mr Pittindrigh twice to the back of the head.

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A cordon outside the property

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Miss Wright added: “Miss Woods made for the door, ran out of the library but was chased by the defendant who was heard to be chanting almost continuously 'Allahu Akbar', over and over.”

Mr Rimmer and Mr Pittindrigh locked the door behind them and rang police.

Still carrying a knife, Lucas gave up chasing Miss Woods and walked towards the centre of town, stopping outside Butterful cafe where van driver Peter Wilde had left his vehicle unlocked.

Lucas got into the driver’s seat but got out again when Mr Wilde returned from buying a sandwich and asked him leave.

“He describes the defendant as being totally spaced out,” said Miss Wright, who added that police then caught Lucas a short time later in Market Street.

A butter knife, with Mr Pittindrigh and Mr Rimmer’s blood on it, was found in his trouser pocket as well as a pair of scissors.

The court heard that Mr Pittindrigh and Miss Woods were allowed home after hospital treatment for their cuts, but that Mr Rimmer suffered a fractured eye socket and had been stabbed in the eye, although the knife miraculously missed the retina.

"He still suffers double vision and is currently unable to drive as a result.

Dr Niamh Sweeney told Judge Timothy Stead that, at the time, Lucas, who has been a mental health patient since 2008 and has now been diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder, was suffering from psychosis at the time of the attacks.

“I believe that without that illness the offence would not have been committed,” she said.

Lucas, whose address was given as The Edenfield Centre at Prestwich Hospital, pleaded guilty to three counts of causing grievous bodily harm.

The court heard that Lucas has 13 previous convictions for offences including a previous stabbing and other violence.

Daniel Calder, defending, said that, until the stabbings at the library, Lucas had not had an accurate diagnosis and treatment for his condition.

"It is something of particular regret," said Mr Calder.

He stressed that Lucas was not acting out of malice or was targetting his victims.

He said: "Mr Lucas asks that I put on record his sincere remorse.

"Today, in a much improved condition, he is able to understand, appreciate and regret the harm and fear he caused to the three victims on that day.

"It was simply, not intending to be crass, the case of them being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Judge Stead ordered Lucas to be detained in hospital under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act with an added Section 41 restriction, meaning he cannot be released back into the community again without the approval of the Ministry of Justice.

He added that he hopes Lucas' victims will take comfort from the fact that they were not deliberately targeted.

"I'm afraid it really was an awful consequence of your mental illness," the judge told Lucas.