Cardiff hit-and-runs: Matthew Tvrdon on 'journey of mayhem'

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Media captionMatthew Tvrdon's "journey of mayhem" through the west of Cardiff was captured by CCTV cameras

A hit-and-run driver killed a mother after deliberately setting out to knock over the woman and her children like "skittles", Cardiff Crown Court heard.

Matthew Tvrdon, 32, drove his van on a "journey of mayhem" for eight miles over 30 minutes on 19 October 2012.

Karina Menzies, 31, died and 17 others were hurt at five locations in Cardiff.

Tvrdon, who has paranoid schizophrenia, has admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and seven counts of attempted murder.

The Welsh government says it will consider ordering an independent review into the case.

Image caption Karina Menzies was killed during the hit-and-run incidents in Cardiff on 19 October last year

During the start of two days of sentencing, the court heard seven children were among those hurt as Tvrdon drove his white three-tonne Iveco van into them.

Tvrdon had deliberately tried to kill at least one adult in each of the five family groups he targeted, the court was told.

Witnesses saw the van veer off the road and straight into the Menzies family. Ms Menzies pushed her children out of the way before the van hit her. Tvrdon, the court was told, turned around and ran over her again.

Another witness described how Ms Menzies was semi-conscious and her two young children were calling out for their mother.

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Media captionThe map shows the route Matthew Tvrdon took on his 'journey of mayhem'

A video was played of Tvrdon driving a Renault Clio car along another main road in Cardiff. It showed him speeding through red lights and into oncoming traffic. He also mounted grass verges.

He then stopped at a social club car park and got into the van, while his ex-girlfriend Lisa Davies tried in vain to stop him.

The court was shown CCTV footage which showed each of the attacks in detail:

  • Crossways Road, Ely. A woman, 29, and two children - a boy, nine, and girl, eight, were injured. One child dragged under the van
  • Cowbridge Road West, a man, 24, and woman, 22 walking two-year-old daughter in a buggy near Ely Reptile Centre. Child was catapulted out of the pushchair.
  • Karina Menzies and two children, eight and 23 months, at near Ely fire station in Cowbridge Road West
  • Grand Avenue in Ely, Renee Selio and two daughters, 10 and 12, hit on zebra crossing
  • Tvrdon attacked three people with a steering lock at Asda petrol station at Leckwith
  • Gill White, 49, remonstrated with him before he ran her over and then her daughter Rebecca, 27, and they were dragged under the van as he drove out of the forecourt

The court was told that Tvrdon was chased by police before being dramatically stopped near the Baron's Court restaurant in Penarth Road.

He tried to assault a police officer with a crook lock before being sprayed with CS gas.

Image caption Artist impression of Matthew Trvdon appearing in court at an earlier appearance

Later, Tvrdon, who tested negative for drink and drugs, told police he was under stress at work and had split up from his girlfriend.

He told police what he had done was a "horrendous" thing and said he felt "hazy".

Tvrdon said he had not been feeling "right about himself or his mind and this was not a feeling he had before in his previous mental health episodes".

The court heard Tvrdon had been sleeping rough for a few days in the run up to the incidents and said he got into the van that day intending to drive to a local industrial estate and go to sleep in it.

But instead he began to drive erratically and targeted pedestrians.

During police interviews, he said experienced a "fit of fury" during the incident at the fire station where Ms Menzies was fatally injured.

Tvrdon, who has no previous convictions, told police: "It felt like what I wanted to do was kill these people but in actually doing it, it felt really wrong."

The court heard he "behaved strangely and bizarrely in the days before the offences".

One expert said after the Cardiff attacks Tvrdon was "in the grip of a severe psychotic illness".

Paul Keleher QC, defending, said Tvrdon was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic in July 2003.

But in October 2011, he was discharged from psychiatric services because he was not considered a danger to himself or anyone else and was told to gradually cut his medication down before stopping it entirely.

Mr Keleher said Tvrdon's recollection of the hit-and-run incidents was a "blur" and he was said to have told police: "I couldn't believe what I had done... I just went for them, went for all of them".

The court heard that Tvrdon believed himself to be sane at the time but was convinced everyone was trying to drive him out of his mind.

The court was told in February this year he was still considered delusional by mental health experts.

By March he was considered to be improving and was coming to a "realisation about what he had done" but this was causing him to be depressed.

His lawyer said that when Tvrdon was not ill he was a "thoroughly pleasant, kind, thoughtful, even timid man".

A statement from his ex-girlfriend Lisa Davies said that while intervening, she noticed Tvrdon looked "dreadful". He got into the van and did not seem to notice her and she had to jump out of the way.

"I know that person that did this wasn't the person I lived with for the last 17 months," she said.

And part of a letter from Tvrdon's parents was read out in court in which they said he was now "profoundly conscious" of what he had done and would have to live with his "terrible guilt" for the rest of his life.

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Media captionKarina Menzies' sister Samantha, Det Chief Insp Ceri Hughes and Grenville Barker of the Crown Prosecution Service speak after the hearing

Dr John Crosby, a consultant forensic psychiatrist who was responsible for Tvrdon at Ashworth Hospital, Merseyside agreed he was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time.

He said Tvrdon had accepted medication and his symptoms had eased.

He told the hearing that Tvrdon should be the subject of an order that would "protect the public from serious harm" rather than a prison term.

Tvrdon, of no fixed address, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and seven counts of attempted murder.

He has also admitted two counts of grievous bodily harm, five counts of actual bodily harm, two of attempted grievous bodily harm, one count of assault by beating and one charge of dangerous driving.

Sentencing was adjourned until Thursday afternoon.

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