Ilford man on trial for attempted murder ‘thought victim was half human, half entity’

Snaresbrook Crown Court Pic: John Stillwell/PA

Snaresbrook Crown Court Pic: John Stillwell/PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

A man who attacked an outreach worker with a meat cleaver thought that the she was “half human, half entity”, a court heard this afternoon.

Both prosecution and defence agreed that there was “no dispute” that Robin Kardam, 44, of Madras Road, Ilford, carried out the attack on Sophia Burley in Ilford Lane on November 25 last year.

Doctors assessing Mr Kardam, who was charged with attempted murder, agreed that he was “legally insane” at the time of the attack.

Danny Robinson, prosecuting, showed the jury, and Mr Kardam, who appeared in the dock with hospital staff, CCTV footage of the attack on Ms Burley, who went out on her regular shift to meet prostitutes that night.

The video showed Mr Kardam, who was holding two meat cleavers, striking Ms Burley five times with one of them – four of the blows were when she had fallen to the floor.

The jury heard that one of the prostitutes, known to Mr Kardam, refused to go with him earlier after she had seen knives in his rucksack, according a witness statement that was read out in court.

He then followed her and other prostitutes down Ilford Lane.

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The woman approached Ms Burley and told her that a man was walking around with knives in his bag.

On seeing this, Ms Burley proceeded to call the police at about 10.44pm, and it was while she was making the call that she was attacked.

Mr Robinson said: “Mr Kardam was stood by a bus stop when Ms Burley called the police. The next thing she knew is Mr Kardam crossed the road and she was on the floor with blood pouring from her head.”

Police arrived within 90 seconds and ran off in pursuit of Mr Kardam, the court heard.

Officers found Mr Kardam in nearby Hamilton Road, pointed a taser at his chest and asked him to put hands up, according to one of the officers’ witness statement.

Mr Kardam put his hands up but attempted to run off. One of the officers fired the taser into his jacket but it failed to work.

He was shortly apprehended by the officers following several knee strikes to his left side, in order for him to release his arms.

Ms Burley spoke of her ordeal weeks after the incident in a filmed interview with police officers, which was shown to the jury.

She said: “I didn’t see him coming at all and all I remember was that I was on the floor – I remember him raising his hands over me and I don’t know what happened in between, all I remember was that I managed to get up.

“All I can remember was the blood that was flowing from my head, I could feel streams of blood just flowing down. I was walking and I was calling out for someone to help me.”

She suffered wounds to the head, neck and shoulders and a fracture to her skull. She was taken to Royal London Hospital and discharged two days later.

Mr Robinson said: “Since the events he [Mr Kardam] has been seen by a number of psychiatrists so that the experts can reach an understanding of his state of mind and they all agree at the time of the offence that he was legally insane.

“This means we can return a special verdict – not guilty by reason of insanity.

“There’s no dispute that he did it, that it was him using the meat cleaver. In his meetings he agreed that he attacked Ms Burley.”

Doctors assessing Mr Kardam included Dr Neil Boast, for the prosecution, and Dr Phillip Joseph and Dr Jeremy Berman, for the defence.

Giving evidence, Dr Berman said: “Mr Kardam dropped out of university and found work in IT – his health deteriorated in his early 20s.”

He went on to explain how Mr Kardam’s paranoid schizophrenia had affected his ability to seek employment and his general living skills.

Refering to a report by Dr Berman, David Hislop, defending, said: “He [Mr Kardam] has a poor insight into the need to engage and take his medication. He had stopped his medication at least a month before the incident.”

Dr Berman said Mr Kardam had the idea that his thoughts were being interfered with and thoughts were being put into his head.

“He suffered delusions,” he said. “Receiving messages from the TV or the radio.”

Mr Hislop said: “He believed his victim was an entity that wanted to imprison and torture him.”

“He was able to give more details about a positive entity called Elizabeth telling him about an entity in the flat above him,” said Dr Berman.

“He felt there was a threat by a number of people in the community and he believed that the victim was the gang leader and she posed a particular threat – that she was half human, half entity.”

He added: “He was in fear of his life, he was walking around with knives – he didn’t feel the victim was human.”

Mr Hislop, who said it was a “tragic” case for Mr Kardam, urged the jury to come to the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.”

Judge Simon Wilkinson, who called the case “unusual”, said: “This is a case where the crown and the defence asks you to return the same verdict.”

The jury is due to present a verdict tomorrow. Mr Kardam denies the charge.

The trial continues.