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Tuesday, 20 February, 2001, 14:38 GMT
Politician 'stabbed from behind'
Robert Ashman
Robert Ashman suffers from paranoid psychosis
A political aide who was killed in an attack with a Samurai sword was probably kneeling or lying on the floor as he was repeatedly stabbed from behind, a court has heard.

Andrew Pennington, 39, a Gloucestershire county councillor, died from multiple stab wounds to his torso, in a frenzied attack by Robert Ashman, Bristol Crown Court heard.

The jury heard on Monday that Mr Ashman, 50, launched his attack after grappling with Cheltenham Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones, who escaped with severe cuts to his hands.

andrew pennington
Andrew Pennington died four days before his 40th birthday
Mr Ashman, a father-of-two from Cheltenham, was initially charged with murdering Mr Pennington and attempting to murder Mr Jones during a surgery in the Liberal Democrat offices in the town in January last year.

But he will not be tried on those charges after a jury last week found him mentally unfit to stand trial.

Instead a three-day hearing is being held to determine whether he was the person who carried out the attack.

'Hit with sword handle'

Home Office pathologist Derek James told the court that Mr Pennington, of Cheltenham, was stabbed nine times from behind - with at least six of the wounds going all the way through his body.

The pathologist said Mr Pennington was hit on the head with the weapon so hard that the imprint of the handle was branded on his skin.

Home Office pathologist Derek James
Dr James said six wounds had gone through the body
He told the jury the wounds in Mr Pennington's back were consistent with him being stabbed again and again as he either crouched or knelt down.

"The injuries on his back were mostly fairly close together. One usually sees those when there isn't much of a struggle going on," Dr James said.

"My inclination is that most wounds were probably inflicted when he was not moving that much. Many of them are directed upwards.

"It is very difficult to get a long weapon in such a position through the body.

Crouching or kneeling

"Mr Pennington was either bent over or on the floor, perhaps crouching or kneeling, although I cannot say with any certainty.

"The pattern suggests his back was facing the assailant and was probably below him."

He added that Mr Pennington had also received wounds to his hands consistent with having gripped the sword blade to try to protect himself.

On Monday Mr Jones told the court that his life had been saved by Mr Pennington who had intervened when Mr Ashman had first attacked the MP.

The councillor had smashed an object over Mr Ashman's head as he thrust the sword at Mr Jones, the jury was told.

The hearing continues.

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28 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Nigel Jones: A constituency man
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