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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Shopping trips for store knifeman
Stafford town centre
Morgan was allowed unsupervised into Stafford town centre
A psychiatric patient who slashed the throats of 15 women at a Birmingham department store has been released into the community to go shopping.

David Morgan, 43, was given 10 life sentences after his rampage through the Rackhams store in 1994.

Morgan, who had a grudge against women, was told he might never be released.

But he has recently been allowed into Stafford town centre for several hours unsupervised. His carers have said the trips are part of his rehabilitation.

It is understood that Morgan, originally from Aston, Birmingham, is being treated at a semi-secure unit at Stafford's St George's Hospital.

South Staffordshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the unit, said its decision to release Morgan had been endorsed by the Home Office.

The safety of the public and wider community is always of paramount importance
NHS Trust spokesman

In a statement, a spokesman for the health trust said it was "very aware" of the safety of its patients, staff and the wider community.

"However, we also have a duty to help our patients recover and resume as normal a life as their illness will allow.

"Some of our patients have restriction orders from the Home Office which limit their movements in the wider community.

"Our clinicians and care workers aim to provide every opportunity for our patients to get better while operating within the terms of the restriction orders."

10-minute spree

A consultant forensic psychiatrist had liaised with local Public Protection Units, which include health, police and probation representatives, at each stage of the process which led to the decision to release Morgan for brief periods.

The spokesman said: "All decisions have also been endorsed by the Mental Health Unit at the Home Office.

"These measures are taken to ensure that as well as trying to provide the very best care for our patients - some of whom have very challenging conditions - the safety of the public and wider community is always of paramount importance."

Morgan, of Osborne Tower, Gladstone Street, Aston, was jailed in February 1996 for the 10-minute terror spree at Rackhams on 8 December 1994.

He admitted nine charges of unlawful wounding and one of assault.

He also pleaded guilty to slashing the throat of psychiatric nurse Steven Messenger with a razor blade while on remand at Ashworth high security mental hospital on Merseyside.

His female victims, including a disabled 85-year-old, needed multiple stitches for their wounds - with one woman missing death by an inch after the blade almost severed her windpipe.

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