Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 13:25 UK

Slasher failed to take medication

Edinburgh Sheriff Court
Edinburgh Sheriff Court hears Robert Murphy failed to take his medication

A schizophrenic who randomly attacked two pensioners in Edinburgh had failed to take his medication before carrying out the assaults, a court has heard.

Robert Murphy slashed Frank McGeachie, 82, on the face with a Stanley knife, leaving him with a six-inch scar.

Minutes earlier, Murphy had hit Elizabeth Essien, 79, in the face in Easter Road on 4 February.

He was due to be sentenced on Friday but Sheriff Kathrine Mackie wanted to ensure Murphy's medication was stable.

Sentencing was put off at Edinburgh Sheriff Court until next month.

Murphy, 39, had bought the knife from a nearby B&Q and was later traced using CCTV footage from the store.

I'm very concerned about Mr Murphy's risk to the public
Sheriff Kathrine Mackie
Edinburgh Sheriff Court

It emerged on Friday in court that Murphy had "disengaged" from his medical treatment and had binged on alcohol before the offences in February.

He pled guilty to the assaults at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month and was detained in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for psychiatric treatment.

Sheriff Mackie said: "Its quite clear from reports from psychiatrists that so far as they are concerned there is little or no connection between the offence and his mental illness.

"I'm very concerned about Mr Murphy's risk to the public."

Murphy struck Ms Essien in the face as she walked to a bus stop shortly after 1300 BST on 4 February.

He had the knife in his hand at the time but the blade did not touch the pensioner, who was left in pain but uninjured.

Mr McGeachie was on his way to buy a newspaper when Murphy passed him a short time later.

Bleeding heavily

The OAP said he felt something touching his face as Murphy passed, and thought he was trying to knock his hat off.

He then realised his face was bleeding heavily, and he was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where he was given 11 stitches.

Doctors said the knife missed fatally cutting his jugular vein by an inch.

The attacks had left both pensioners "shaken", said fiscal depute John Kirk.

The knife was found further up Easter Road and was found to have Mr McGeachie's blood on the blade and Murphy's DNA on the handle.

He was arrested after one of the detectives spotted him in the street three days later.

The court was told Murphy had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and was "in need of medical attention".

His lawyer added: "It would appear that alcohol abuse, drug addiction and his mental state all contributed to the events on 4 February."

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