Birmingham & Black Country

Lauren Jeska jailed for Alexander Stadium stabbings

Lauren Jeska Image copyright .
Image caption The court heard that Lauren Jeska's transgender status led to a dispute with UK Athletics

A fell-running champion has been jailed for 18 years for stabbing three UK Athletics staff at a major arena.

Lauren Jeska, a transgender athlete, admitted trying to murder Ralph Knibbs at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium.

The "cool, calculated attack" came amid a dispute over her eligibility to compete as a female.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that Jeska, 42, stabbed Mr Knibbs in the head and neck, leaving a 2cm hole with "blood pumping out".

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Jeska also pleaded guilty, in September, to causing actual bodily harm to Kevan Taylor and Tim Begley, who tried to intervene during the attack, and two counts of illegal possession of a knife.

Image copyright SWNS.com
Image caption Ralph Knibbs was left with restricted movement and has difficulty eating as a result of the attack

Running as a woman, Jeska, of Wesley Terrace in Machynlleth, Powys, was England's champion fell-runner three times between 2010 and 2012.

Prosecuting, Richard Atkins QC told the court she became embroiled in the dispute with UK Athletics and failed to produce samples of her testosterone levels.

As a result, her racing results had been declared null and void, the court heard.

'Skewer meat'

A week before the attack, Mr Knibbs, who was UK Athletics' head of human resources and welfare, went to meet Jeska at her home to discuss the "long-term" issue with the sporting governing body.

On 22 March last year, she drove from her home in Wales to Birmingham with two knives hidden in a rucksack and walked into the open-plan UK Athletics office before launching her attack on Mr Knibbs.

One eyewitness said Jeska looked "as though she were trying to skewer meat".

Julie Warburton, for Jeska, told the court she feared further blood tests would reveal her transgender status publicly.

She added that Jeska "feels awful" and was "extremely shocked to hear of the effects of her actions".

Judge Simon Drew QC said before passing sentence he had considered various psychiatric reports and the nature of the attack.

But he said it had been planned and executed with "chilling precision", meaning Jeska posed a "serious risk in the future".

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Jeska "had always been a gentle and caring person" before the stabbings, her parents said
Image caption Jeska was considered for international selection in 2015

The court heard how Mr Knibbs, a former rugby player with Bristol, suffered a stroke at the scene which temporarily blinded him in one eye.

He now has limited vision in both eyes, rendering him disabled, his movement is restricted and he has difficulty eating due to severed nerves.

Mr Knibbs said he was in a "constant battle with his emotions".

Accountant Tim Begley was stabbed in the ribs but the blade did not penetrate deeply, while finance director Kevan Taylor was cut on his left hand and fingers as he restrained Jeska.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Birmingham's Alexander Stadium hosts Diamond League events and the national championships and is the base of UK Athletics

Jeska, who was a member of Todmorden Harriers, Aberystwyth Athletics Club and another club based in Snowdonia, must also serve five years on extended licence and will not be eligible for parole for 12 years.

Speaking after the case, her parents Pauline and Graham Jameson said they were praying for the full physical and emotional recovery of Mr Knibbs.

During Jeska's "mental health crisis" they said she "felt traumatised and had flashbacks which caused fantasies of doing something drastic" and had "twice asked for help from the NHS but was not referred for psychiatric help".

"Whatever the technical psychiatric diagnosis, it is clear to us as parents that the assault is only understandable as the consequence of a mental health crisis precipitated by the affair with UK Athletics," her parents said.

Image caption Jeska's parents Pauline and Graham Jameson said their daughter had suffered a "mental health crisis"