Hospital order for man who attacked woman with metal bar

Bronnagh Brannigan was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Bronnagh Brannigan was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A man who attacked a woman with a metal bar has been detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.

Stephen Powderham, who has paranoid schizophrenia, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court via video link from a mental health unit on Friday.

The 31-year-old had already admitted assault, wounding with intent and possession of an offensive weapon at an earlier hearing on January 29.

Prosecutor Juliet Donovan said Powderham punched the woman in the ribs during an argument over a mobile phone at her Lowestoft home on October 9, 2019.

She said Powderham again turned up uninvited on January 15, 2020, and again attacked the woman following an argument – this time hitting her twice over the head with a metal bar, causing a 3cm wound, requiring stiches.

The court heard how Powderham, formerly of Briarwood Road, Lowestoft, had been jailed in 2011 for randomly stabbing a 16-year-old boy in the back at an address in the town.

Matthew Sorel-Cameron said Powderham's mental condition had improved since being moved from remand at Norwich prison to a secure mental health hospital 12 weeks ago.

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He said a move back to prison would "sacrifice control" over Powderham's condition, and that detention under section 37 of the Mental Health Act – or a hospital order – was plainly appropriate. 

He argued that a section 37 order could provide necessary safeguards without the need for an additional section 41 restriction order, which can only be lifted by the secretary of state of a mental health tribunal.

Mr Sorel-Cameron added: "Were it not for his illness, these offences would never have been committed."

Judge Emma Peters told Powderham it was clear that the offences had, to some extent, if not entirely, resulted from his psychiatric condition.

"I'm satisfied that this disorder is of a nature that makes it appropriate for you to be detained in a mental health hospital," she added.

"Your past demonstrates a complicated history of mental illness."

Judge Peters detained Powderham under section 37 of the Mental Health Act with a restriction under section 41.

He was also made subject to a restraining order.

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