Man who slashed Pc detained indefinitely

A FRENCH national who slashed a police officer's face with a knife in a "gratuitous and mindless attack" is to be detained indefinitely under the provisions of the mental health act.

A FRENCH national who slashed a police officer's face with a knife in a "gratuitous and mindless attack" is to be detained indefinitely under the provisions of the mental health act.

Karl Canavy, 25, who had already pleaded guilty to the unprovoked assault on Pc James Hardingham, was ordered to be detained indefinitely by a judge at Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday.

Pc Hardingham, 23, was attending a fatal road accident near Stansted in July last year when he was attacked.

The officer who was based at Braintree, required 15 deep stitches and a further 50 skin stitches to the 9cm laceration which was described as a "horrific injury".


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Canavy, who spoke limited English, showed no emotion as he was led from the dock.

The court heard how in an attempt to cure him, Canavy's mother and uncle in Guyana took him to a "healer" who proceeded to pull a knife out, which led Canavy to believe he was going to be killed.

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Canavy was later found carrying a card from the healer which said, in French, "exorcism service".

The court heard how in the month before the incident, Canavy started hearing voices and became convinced his girlfriend was having an affair and he was overcome with jealousy.

Shortly before the attack, witnesses in a minibus near to the scene of the fatal accident described Canavy's eyes as white and glassy. He attempted to board the bus saying: "Help me, take me London, train station".

Pc Hardingham intervened and tried to establish Canavy's identity and reassured him he could be helped. As he turned his away he felt what he believed to be a slap before realising he had been slashed with a craft knife.

Canavy fled but was later found by police hiding at the bottom of a ditch.

An expert psychiatrist who evaluated Canavy's mental stability after the event said he had suffered from paranoid psychosis, delusions, hallucinations and lived in a "paranoid nightmare world" where events were "threatening and out of control".

Mitigating, Richard Heller said Canavy was a well-educated man, and had worked as a jeweller and a chef before he became ill and had shown contrition since the attack.

"His life has quite literally collapsed around him," he said.

Sentencing, His Honour Christopher Barnett QC, sitting as a deputy circuit judge, said: "This was a gratuitous and mindless act of violence which can only be understood when set within the framework of the medical evidence."

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