Page last updated at 14:11 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 15:11 UK

Four years for city OAP slasher

Edinburgh Sheriff Court
The court earlier heard how Murphy blamed his illness for the attacks

A man who randomly attacked two pensioners with a knife in an Edinburgh street has been jailed for four years.

Robert Murphy slashed 82-year-old Frank McGeachie across the face with a Stanley knife moments after hitting 79-year-old Elizabeth Essien.

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

Murphy had bought the knife from a nearby B&Q shortly before the attacks.

He was later traced using CCTV footage from the store.

The 39-year-old schizophrenic had blamed his illness for the attacks, but doctors said they were not connected.

He was given an extended sentence which will see him supervised on licence for three years after his release.

I have very serious concerns about the deliberate manner in which you purchased the knife used in these assaults and the manner in which you selected your victims
Sheriff Kathrine Mackie
Edinburgh Sheriff Court

Sheriff Kathrine Mackie described the attacks as "extremely serious offences".

Murphy struck Ms Essien in the face as she walked to a bus stop in Easter Road just after 1300 GMT on 4 February.

The court heard 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.

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.

The pensioner has been left with a six-inch scar on his face.

Doctors said the knife missed fatally cutting Mr McGeachie's jugular vein by an inch, which would likely have been fatal.

Fiscal depute John Kirk, prosecuting, said the attacks had left both pensioners "shaken".

Alcohol abuse

The knife was discovered 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.

"These random unprovoked attacks carried out on two elderly victims give rise to particular concern for the safety of the public," Sheriff Mackie said.

"The consequences of these assaults, despite the fortitude of the complainers, will go far beyond the physical injuries.

"I have very serious concerns about the deliberate manner in which you purchased the knife used in these assaults and the manner in which you selected your victims.

"Because of the gravity of these offences a custodial sentence is the only appropriate disposal in this case."

The court was told Murphy, who spent four years as a paratrooper in the Territorial Army, had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and claimed not to remember carrying out the attacks.

"It would appear that alcohol abuse, drug addiction and his mental state all contributed to the events on 4 February," his solicitor Paul Sweeney said.

"He's asked me to tell the court that he's sorry for his actions."

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