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The BBC's Stephen Cape
"George Harrison is lucky to be alive"
 real 56k

Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 09:47 GMT
Beatle's attacker says sorry
Olivia and George Harrison
Olivia and George Harrison: Survived attack
The man found not guilty of trying to kill ex-Beatle George Harrison has said sorry as he begins an indefinite stay in a secure hospital.

Michael Abram, 34, of Huyton, Merseyside, was found not guilty by reason of insanity, on the direction of the trial judge.

He had denied trying to kill Mr Harrison, 57, and his wife Olivia, 52, on 30 December last year.


I wished to say how sorry I am for the alarm, distress and injury that I have caused

Michael Abram
The judge, Mr Justice Astill, described the incident as a "horrifying attack" and ordered Mr Abram to be sent to hospital "without time restriction".

After the trial, Mr Abram's solicitor read out a letter of apology from the defendant.

"I'm writing this letter in the hope that it would be passed on to Mr and Mrs Harrison.

"I wished to say how sorry I am for the alarm, distress and injury that I have caused when I was ill.

"I have seen many doctors prior to the attack and I was never told that I was suffering with schizophrenia or any mental illness.

"I thought my delusions were real and everything that I was experiencing was some kind of witchcraft.

Dhani Harrison
Dhani Harrison: Called for support for the NHS "who do a great job"
I know that Mr and Mrs Harrison fought for their lives on December 30, 1999, and that they must have been terrified by the lunatic in their house."

George Harrison's son Dhani said outside the court: "It's tragic anyone should suffer such a mental breakdown.

"We can never forget he was full of hatred and violence when he came into our home.

"Naturally the prospect of him being released back into society is abhorrent to us."

He said the family would ask the home secretary to notify them if Mr Abram was to re-enter the community, after the judge refused their application.

"We will now continue to rebuild our lives," he added, saying his father was "doing fine".

Oxford Crown Court heard Mr Abram was a paranoid schizophrenic, who thought Harrison had possessed him and that all the Beatles were witches.


Michael Abram: Thought George Harrison possessed him
He attacked Mr Harrison and his wife believing he was possessed by the former Beatle and was on a mission from God, the court had heard.

Mr Abram broke into the Harrisons' mansion house in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, at about 0330GMT and attacked the couple, stabbing Mr Harrison.

The former Beatle gave a written statement to the court saying he was convinced he had been fatally stabbed.

Mr Harrison's stab wound missed his heart by an inch, leaving him with a punctured lung.

Andrew Pengally, a surgeon at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where Mr Harrison was taken, said he was lucky to be alive.

Remorse

"There was a stab wound higher up his body which fortunately did not penetrate," he said.

"If it had done it could have hit some major blood vessels."


Lynda Abram: "He was a very ill man"
Psychiatrists had testified that Mr Abram had responded well to anti-psychotic drugs, but would be a risk to society if released immediately from hospital.

His mother, Lynda, told the BBC she hoped the Harrisons would be able to forgive him.

"He was a very ill man last year. Under normal circumstances, he would never do anything like this," she said.

"He is a lovely lad."

She said her son had been let down by doctors over the last nine years.

Mental health charities are now calling for an inquiry into the case.

Zito Trust spokesman Michael Howlitt said: "The way it is a number of people are having to be attacked in order to get treatment for the patient or offender who has committed the attack."

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See also:

15 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Harrison's fight against intruders
14 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Beatles winning album battle
14 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Harrison: I thought I was dying
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