BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Saturday, 29 June, 2002, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Samurai sword attacker freed
St Andrew's Roman Catholic Church
Eleven worshippers were seriously injured
A man detained indefinitely after attacking 11 churchgoers with a samurai sword has been released after less than two years, it has emerged.

Glasgow-born Eden Strang, 27, attacked worshippers in Thornton Heath, south London, in November 1999, because he believed they were demons.

In June 2000 an Old Bailey jury found Strang not guilty through insanity of attempted murder, but ordered him to be detained indefinitely at a psychiatric hospital under the Mental Health Act.

But he was released from hospital in March of this year, and has since been living in a hostel in the local area.

Strang
Strang: Believed the church congregation were demons
Mental health experts believe Strang is not a danger to the public.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said: "People with schizophrenia can live safely in the community provided they receive consistent care and treatment and a quick response if their condition deteriorates.

"If all these services are in place, the public have nothing to fear."

"Eden Strang was obviously extremely tormented and disturbed at the time of the attack.

Victims' support

"He shouldn't be doubly punished by having this illness and being detained indefinitely.

"It is safe for him to be released if his condition is stabilised and he is supervised by skilled staff."

Police liaison officers are now giving support to Strang's victims, many of whom were seriously injured in the attack with the 3ft sword.

John O'Toole, the parish priest, said there was "disbelief" at the decision to release Strang.

"I think there is certain disbelief, surprise and shock," he said.

John O'Toole, Parish Priest
Feelings of dismay in church congregation at release
"But also a feeling that if he is responding well to treatment we have to go with the medical advice."

Strang told psychiatrists God ordered him to slaughter the congregation to save his wife Michelle, 26, and five-year-old daughter Olivia from eternal damnation. He stripped naked to be "clean and pure", the court heard.

A psychiatrist at his trial said of him he was a full-blown paranoid schizophrenic: "You can't get much madder than this."

'Treatment working'

The trial judge said the public had to be protected from "serious harm" from Strang.

Inspector Glen Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan branch of the Police Federation, told The Sun newspaper: "It is as if the lunatics have taken over the asylum.


It is utterly incredible that someone who was so disturbed can be allowed back into society so quickly

Police Federation
"It is utterly incredible that someone who was so disturbed can be allowed back into society so quickly."

The Sun newspaper claims that police only knew Strang was free after he was spotted on the streets by chance.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police refused to comment on that, but said: "It was understood he had responded positively to treatment and is still under NHS care.

Meetings

"A multi-agency public protection panel has considered this case and is taking measures to ensure both the public and Mr Strang is safe.

"Another meeting to be chaired by Commander Andy Baker is to take place on 1 July. Consultations will take place with partner agencies.

"Police family liaison officers are contacting victims of the attack to maintain their reassurance and give them support."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said, "We cannot comment on individual cases because of confidentiality reasons."

Asked if the revelation would prompt an inquiry, she replied: "We are not reviewing anything at this stage."

Seventy per cent of schizophrenics respond to treatment for their condition and new drugs on the market are far more successful at treating the illness, according to Sane.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"It was a terrifying attack"
The BBC's Bob Sinkinson
"Police say it is incredible that someone so disturbed should be allowed back into society so quickly"
Mental health charity Sane's Marjorie Wallace
"As long as somebody is having treatment they are as safe as anybody else"
See also:

27 Nov 01 | England
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes