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Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 21:09 GMT
Sword man sent to secure hospital
Robert Ashman
Robert Ashman: Jury decided he was unfit to stand trial
A man convicted of killing a Liberal Democrat councillor and seriously wounding a MP has been sent to a secure hospital for an indefinite time.

On Monday, a jury decided that Robert Ashman stabbed Andrew Pennington to death and injured MP Nigel Jones with a 3ft Samurai sword.

Ashman, 50, was initially charged with murder and attempted murder but the jury at Bristol Crown Court decided that he was mentally unfit to stand trial.

andrew pennington
Andrew Pennington died four days before his 40th birthday
After a three day hearing, they returned a unanimous verdict that he did kill Mr Pennington and by a majority verdict that he injured Mr Jones.

Sentencing Ashman, Mr Justice Robert Toulson said he was potentially a great danger to society.

Gloucestershire Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Murdock said Ashman had never apologised for what happened.

'No remorse'

He said: "He never even spoke about the actual events and he showed no remorse whatsoever."

Mr Justice Toulson paid tribute to Mr Pennington, 39, who grappled with Ashman when he entered Mr Jones' surgery in January last year.

Mr Pennington acted in this way with selfless disregard for his own life

Mr Justice Toulson
He said: "Andrew Pennington must have made a conscious decision to stay when he encouraged Nigel Jones to escape while he grappled with the defendant, knowing he, himself, was unarmed and at the mercy of a man armed with a sword.

"Mr Pennington acted in this way with selfless disregard for his own life."

Mr Jones, 52, also paid tribute to the man he claimed had saved his life.

"He was a wonderful person and we will never see his like again," he said.

Mr Pennington, of Cheltenham, was stabbed nine times from behind - with at least six of the wounds going all the way through his body.

Nigel Jones, MP
Nigel Jones was injured in the attack

He was hit on the head with the weapon so hard that the imprint of the handle was branded on his skin.

Mr Jones suffered up to 30 cuts in the attack and required 57 stitches to his wounds.

The jury heard that Ashman had visited Nigel Jones' weekly surgery more than 50 times in the past eight years and the latest visit was apparently to discuss money worries.

Mr Pennington's family said after the sentencing hearing: "A year on from Andrew's death we are still shocked about the brutality of the attack and the severity of his injuries.

"However, we are content with the verdict and with the outcome for Robert Ashman."

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