Birmingham & Black Country

Big Issue stabbings: Homeless man detained for life

A homeless man who admitted killing two Big Issue sellers in a knife attack in Birmingham has been detained for life.

Ian Watson-Gladwish, 31, and Wayne Busst, 32, who were also homeless, were stabbed in Union Street on 11 January.

John Ward denied murder but admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was given a minimum tariff of 12 years.

Ward, 23, a paranoid schizophrenic, appeared via video link at Birmingham Crown Court because of safety concerns.

The court heard that a week ago Ward attacked and seriously injured a member of staff at Ashworth Hospital, the secure psychiatric unit where he is being held.

Big Issue sellers Wayne Busst (left) and Ian Watson-Gladwish were fatally stabbed in January

Ahead of Ward's trial, Big Issue founder John Bird said "the streets are incredibly dangerous" and it was difficult to protect the magazine vendors.

He said the charity was looking at other ways of working with homeless people who did not want to be street sellers.

Both men were stabbed to death near their pitches.

One of the men was stabbed outside Sainsbury's in Union Street, while the other was found slumped nearby outside a side entrance to Boots.

Peter Grieves-Smith, prosecuting, said Ward travelled from London to Birmingham, bought a knife, alcohol and a bag of heroin - which he smoked - and then stood with the men as they sold the magazine.

Fled to cinema

It was the first time he had met the men, who were fellow drug-users.

Ward, of no fixed address, then struck out at them, with one eyewitness describing seeing him afterwards looking "angry and arrogant".

Ward denied murder but admitted manslaughter

The knife was thrown away in an alleyway and Ward walked to a nearby Odeon cinema where he sat and wiped blood from his face and hands with napkins until the police arrived to arrest him.

Afterwards he gave police with a written statement that said: "John Ward admits stabbing two men in Birmingham city centre - he intended to hurt them but not to kill them."

Mr Grieves-Smith said psychiatric experts for both the prosecution and defence had since assessed Ward as a paranoid schizophrenic and agreed that this serious mental health disorder was at the root of his attacks.

Ward told Dr Panchu Xavier, forensic psychiatrist at Ashworth Hospital, "he didn't want to do anything but "the voices wanted me to kill everyone"'.

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