Leytonstone knife attacker 'thought Tony Blair was his guardian angel'

Leytonstone knife attacker Muhiddin Mire. © Crown Prosecution Service.
A man who carried out a knife attack at London’s Leytonstone Underground Station last year has a history of mental illness and believed Tony Blair was his guardian angel, a court has been told.

Lawyers defending Muhiddin Mire, 30, told the Old Bailey that their client had experienced paranoid schizophrenia for several years before attacking an Underground passenger last December.

Medical experts recommended the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) sympathizer receive further psychiatric treatment, warning he posed “a very severe” risk to the public.

Mire, who worked as a taxi driver, was found guilty of attempted murder last month, but the court is now trying to determine his sentence.

He attempted to behead a member of public and slashed another man’s neck in Leytonstone Underground Station last December, shortly after the British Parliament voted to extend airstrikes against IS from Iraq into Syria.

When police arrived at the scene, Mire shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and “This is for my Syrian brothers. I'm going to spill your blood.”

Dr Shaun Bhattacherjee, a consultant psychiatrist at Broadmoor Hospital, said the Somali-born Muslim was “clearly mentally ill.

It is clear at the time of the offence he was very psychotic and manifested a significant number of psychotic symptoms,” he told the court.

Bhattacherjee added that Mire posed a “very severe” risk to the public and requires ongoing treatment in “conditions of high security.”

Defense lawyer Alphege Bell told the court Mire suffered from delusions, including the belief former Prime Minister Tony Blair “was his guardian angel.”

The court also heard Mire believe he was possessed by evil spirits and underwent several “exorcisms” by imams.

A month before the attack Mire had been referred to mental health services by his GP, but was not taking medication. His family were also worried about his mental state and contacted police.

The court heard Mire began dressing in traditional Muslim clothes rather than his usual jeans and T-shirt in the run-up to the attack.

Defense witness Dr Nigel Blackwod, a senior lecturer at King’s College and consultant psychiatrist at HMP Wandsworth, said Mire’s extremism was “intimately associated” with mental illness.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Philip Joseph said cannabis use had made a “significant” contribution to what was “probably” a case of paranoid schizophrenia.

Prosecutors argued Mire had watched IS videos, carried photos of Fusilier Lee Rigby – who was murdered by Islamist extremists in 2013 – and was trying to recreate an IS beheading.

Mire repeatedly attacked Lyle Zimmerman with a serrated knife on December 5 last year. He pushed him to the ground and attempted to “saw” his neck with the blade before onlookers intervened.

In a statement, Zimmerman said he was not “significantly traumatized by the attack psychologically.”

I have been left with a scar on my neck which I am aware of only because it pulls when I use my voice but is otherwise superficial and healing well,” he said.