Gatwick knifeman was in mental health relapse

image copyrightReuters image captionNearly 200 people had to clear the terminal in June 2019 A…

Gatwick knifeman was in mental health relapse

Gatwick Airport

image copyrightReuters

image captionNearly 200 people had to clear the terminal in June 2019

A man who sparked panic at Gatwick Airport when he walked through a terminal brandishing two large knives has been given a suspended sentence.

Adam Russell, 32, from Crawley, had relapsed from schizophrenia on 3 June 2019, Lewes Crown Court heard.

Nearly 200 people had to clear the South Terminal when security staff raised the alarm.

Russell admitted possessing a weapon and affray. He was ordered to take part in mental health treatment.

The court heard Russell, of Percivale Close, told a neighbour he was planning a “massacre” at the airport and was “going to kill them all”.

Airport staff activated a panic alarm at 01:54 BST when he was seen headed towards the international departure lounge and armed police arrived one minute later.

Officers took the view he was “aggressive and an immediate danger” and tasered Russell before they arrested him, the court heard.

After he was arrested, he told officers he suffered from schizophrenia.

During the court case, a witness described him “walking with purpose” and with “an emotionless glazed-over look in his face”.

‘Voices in head’

Prosecutor Rachel Beckett said a security officer had been so scared when she saw him “she thought this is it, this is a terrorist attack”.

The court heard that a week before the incident, Russell told ambulance staff voices in his head were telling him to blow up the airport.

Defence barrister Fiona Clegg said: “In the preceding weeks to the incident his mental health was deteriorating significantly.”

She said Russell wished her to indicate he could now see “just how alarming this must have been”.

She said he was “profusely sorry” and engaging with mental health services.

Sentencing him, Judge Jeremy Gold QC said it was a very serious incident and in other circumstances he would be sending Russell to prison.

He told Russell: “You were not thinking logically or reasonably at the time.”

But he added he was “unimpressed” that Russell had been self-medicating with illicit drugs.

The judge handed him a 15-month suspended sentence along with requirements for treatment and rehabilitation.

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