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The BBC's John McIntyre
"Two eminent psychiatrists gave evidence that he was as mad as you can get"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 June, 2000, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Nude swordsman detained indefinitely
St Andrew's Roman Catholic Church
Eleven worshippers were seriously injured
A naked man who attacked churchgoers with a Samurai sword has been found not guilty of attempted murder.

An Old Bailey jury decided Glasgow-born Eden Strang, 27, was legally insane when he attacked worshippers at St Andrew's Roman Catholic Church in Thornton Heath, south London, because he believed they were demons.

He was in another world

Psychiatrist John Vince

Eleven members of the congregation, including an elderly nun, were seriously injured when they were slashed with a sword and a knife.

Strang denied seven charges of attempted murder and six charges of assault.

The Recorder of London, Judge Michael Hyarn ordered Strang to be detained indefinitely at a psychiatric hospital under the Mental Health Act after the jury agreed with expert opinions that he was not guilty by reason of insanity.

Strang: Believed the church congregation were demons

"It is necessary in order to protect the public from serious harm from you," Mr Hyarn told Strang.

The judge described the scenes of terror as "horrifying", and said that the brave worshippers who tried to stop Strang's bloody rampage "should be thanked by the public for the way in which they acted".

Strang waved at his family in the public gallery as he was led away to secure accommodation after the verdict on Friday.

Slashing attack

Strang had gone to the church near his home in Brook Road at 10.30am on 28 November last year, believing the congregation was made up of demons who had taken on human forms.

He encountered his first victim, Paul Chilton, 55, outside the church and slashed him with the sword causing him grave injuries.

Paul Chilton: Needed 40 pints of blood after being slashed by Strang

Strang then went inside the church lashing out wildly at the churchgoers, who included children and pensioners.

One parishioner's face and neck were ripped to shreds, and another had two fingertips sliced off as he tried to defend himself.

Parishioners had used whatever was available to try to overpower Strang.

One person used a Zimmer frame, another grabbed a crucifix, the court was told.

The bloodbath only stopped when an off-duty police officer tackled the swordsman with a section of organ piping.

Religious obsession

Experts said Strang was so mentally disturbed he could not utter a single sentence without referring to the Bible.

The jury was told his symptoms were so severe that it would be almost impossible to fake them.

Psychiatrist John Vince said the illness had built up for seven years to develop into full-blown paranoid schizophrenia.

"Towards the incident, he started to see things," Dr Vince said. "He started to see people burning in front of him, and the sky turning red.

"None of these things were happening, but to him these were real things."

He said Strang had a whole range of delusions, but mainly that God was sending him instructions that he had no choice but to obey, otherwise he and his family would face the apocalypse.

Mr Vince said: 'He was in another world. Sadly, it resulted in the kind of behaviour you have heard about."

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