Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


The BBC's Francesca Kastelitz
"As church-goers wait for friends and relatives to recover prayers will go on"
 real 28k

Kambiz Hashemi, Accident and Emergency Consultant
"One of the cases was the worst I've seen in my career"
 real 28k

Nanette Fredericksson, eyewitness
"It was like a mass stampede of people"
 real 28k

Home Secretary, Jack Straw
"It's hard to think of something worse than to have the serenity of a church shattered in this way"
 real 28k

Father Bill Agley, Curate of St Andrews
"It's totally shocking"
 real 28k

Monday, 29 November, 1999, 09:31 GMT
Prayers for sword attack victims
PC Tom Tracey Pc Tom Tracey overcame the swordsman

Worshippers have returned to a church to say prayers for those injured when a man attacked the congregation with a sword.

A handful of parishioners heard mass at St Andrew's Catholic Church in Thornton Heath, Surrey, just before 0800 GMT.

The mass, led by the curate, Father Bill Agley, focused on the 11 parishioners who were injured in the attack on Sunday.

Father John O'Toole, who also presided over the mass, said all the church could offer at the moment was "silence and prayers".

St Andrew's Church The church was packed with nearly 500 people
"It was a very quiet mass. At this moment there isn't need for a lot of words," he told GMTV.

"With all the tragedy there have also been stories of courage and great caring and goodness on display as well."

Prayers were also said for the alleged attacker and his family.

Eight people are still being treated in hospital for their injuries after the attack while three others were released overnight.

Six people are at the Mayday Hospital, Thornton Heath, and two others, a man in his 30s and a woman in her 80s, are being treated at St George's Hospital, Tooting.

'Suffering from depression'

The most badly injured victim, a man who lost part of his hand, is in intensive care, where his condition is described as stable.

He has undergone a series of operations during which his severed thumb and forefinger were attached to his left forearm in preparation for further operations.

None of the other victims has life-threatening injuries.

A 26-year-old man, reported to be from Scotland, is being questioned by police over the attack. They believe he may have been suffering from depression but are still trying to establish a motive.

Great bravery

Meanwhile an off-duty policeman has been telling of how he helped subdue the man as panic broke out among the congregation.

Senior Metropolitan police officers said Pc Tom Tracey had acted with great bravery.

Pc Tracey, 40, was singing a psalm with the rest of the congregation in the church where he has been a regular for almost 20 years.

"The first thing I saw was people rushing to get out," he said. "I looked over and saw a man wielding a sword."

Pc Tracey stepped forward, ripped out an organ pipe to deflect the blows of the naked attacker and - helped by other churchgoers - overcame the man.

'Very scared'

Pc Tracey, who is married with two children, was with his 13-year-old daughter at the time the attack started.


There was surprisingly little noise at first, the screaming came later
Pc Tom Tracey
He said his first thought had been for the safety of the many children who were in the church at the time.

"I was very scared but one feels obliged to try to prevent people being hurt and limit the damage as much as one can. Thankfully there were some other members of the parish who showed great bravery and backed me up."

Pc Tracey described people's faces as showing "pure fear" as they rushed past him.

'Best traditions of service'

Det Chief Insp Phil Fitzgerald said he was not surprised at Pc Tracey's modesty and said he regarded him as very brave indeed.

He said: "He has acted within the best traditions of the service and with great bravery.

"I think the actions of Pc Tracey and those other people must have undoubtedly stopped further injury being caused."

He also appealed for any members of the public who had been in the church at the time of the attack to contact police.

Police have issued a telephone number for concerned friends and relatives on 0171 601 2800.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE

See also:
28 Nov 99 |  UK
Man quizzed over church attack
28 Nov 99 |  UK
Worshippers describe church panic

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories