MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO RUSSELL SQUARE KNIFE ATTACK

A man has admitted stabbing a woman to death and injuring five other people in a knife attack in Russell Square which sparked a major police operation.

Zakaria Bulhan, 19 (12.07.97) pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on Monday, 6 February to the manslaughter of 64-year-old American Darlene Horton by reason of diminished responsibility.

He also admitted five counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after attacking another five people; a 67-year-old British man [victim 2], a 59-year-old American man [victim 3], a 23-year-old Australian woman [victim 4], a 40-year-old Australian man [victim 5] and an 18-year-old Israeli woman [victim 6].

Sentencing has begun and will continue on Tuesday, 7 February.

Detective Inspector Tony Lynes, of the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: “Bulhan’s actions caused an enormous amount of fear and distress with initial concerns this incident may be linked to terrorism.

“This was quickly found not to be the case and we now know Bulhan was suffering a severe episode of mental health. He clearly poses an enormous risk to the general public and I hope he can now get the help he needs.

“I would like to commend our armed officers who were called to the incident that night not knowing what they might encounter. They arrived on the scene within six minutes and acted with the utmost professionalism to detain an armed and violent man with the minimum necessary force and without firing a single shot.

“However, our thoughts must remain with Bulhan’s victims who were simply enjoying a night out on a summer’s evening when they were subjected to this terrifying ordeal. And of course the friends and family of Darlene Horton who so sadly lost her life.”

Shortly before 22:30hrs on Wednesday, 3 August police began to receive emergency calls from members of the public about a man with a knife in Russell Square, WC1.

Police arrived on scene to find five people with varying stab wounds and another victim – Darlene – with very serious injuries. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 23:06hrs.

Armed officers immediately began searching for the outstanding suspect – Bulhan – who had moved away from the scene.

Turning into Bedford Place they saw a man matching his description.

They ordered Bulhan to stop but he started screaming and ran towards Bloomsbury Square.

Officers pursued and surrounded Bulhan, who they could see had a knife in his right hand.

They ordered him to drop the knife but he refused and Bulhan was then Tasered. He dropped the weapon and was arrested.

Bulhan was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital for a head injury he suffered as he fell to the ground during the pursuit. There he told officers he had been hearing voices and thought everyone was trying to get him. He said he was hiding, running and ducking behind walls and found a knife, possibly in a shop.

He was later interviewed at Lewisham police station but refused to tell officers any more about what had happened. He wouldn’t take part in an identification parade but said to officers: “It was definitely me.”

Bulhan was charged on Friday, 5 August with murder and five counts of attempted murder.

A post-mortem examination on Darlene found she died after being stabbed in the chest.

American Darlene had arrived in the UK with her husband in June. That night they had been out for dinner and were heading back to where they were staying in Gower Street WC1, travelling via Russell Square.

Darlene’s husband suddenly became aware of a commotion behind them. Bulhan rushed past and Darlene said “ouch”. Darlene’s husband continued to watch Bulhan running in a hap-hazard manner and suddenly noticed he had a knife. He shouted out to warn other members of the public and started chasing Bulhan before calling police.

He then returned to his wife and found her collapsed on the pavement.

Another five people were injured and needed hospital treatment as Bulhan ran through the area indiscriminately stabbing people. Victim 2, a 67-year-old British man, suffered a perforated bowel and spent a week in hospital.

He told police he had been out with a friend walking up Southampton Road when he spotted a man running towards him. As he passed, the man lashed out and the victim thought he’d been punched in the stomach.

He quickly realised he had in fact been stabbed and that a woman near him [victim 4] had also been attacked.

They took a cab together to University College Hospital.

Bulhan appeared at the Old Bailey on Monday, 6 February where pleas to lesser charges were accepted by the prosecution

Source: MetPolice NewsDesk

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