John Ward sentenced to life for double manslaughter

15/10/2013

A 23-year-old man who stabbed to death two men in a busy city centre street has today pleaded guilty to their manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court on the basis of diminished responsibility and was sentenced life imprisonment with the Judge making a hospital direction under section 45 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

John Ward had purchased a 20cm kitchen knife from a supermarket a few hours before the attack and used this weapon to fatally stab Ian Watson-Gladwish and Wayne Busst on Union Street in Birmingham city centre on Friday 11 January 2013.

The defendant had approached the victims, who were outside the branch of WH Smiths, and began arguing with both of them. A scuffle took place and Ward then produced a knife and stabbed Mr Busst in the chest. The victim managed to run away a few hundred yards before he collapsed outside the Boots entrance on Union Street. 

Mr Watson-Gladwish was was then stabbed three times in the arm and abdomen.

Members of the public rushed to the aide of the two victims and the emergency services were called. Paramedics immediately arrived and proceeded to treat both of them, but they later were pronounced dead at the scene.

After Ward had stabbed the two men, he fled the vicinity, threw the knife away and ran into the Odeon cinema where he tried to wash the victim's blood off his hands and clothing. A few minutes later, he was arrested at the cinema by the police.

Sean Kyne, Acting Sector Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said:

"Following expert medical advice from the prosecution and defence psychiatrists into John Ward's mental health, it became apparent that the defendant has been suffering from a serious mental illness for many years. It is this illness which provides the explanation for his actions that Friday evening and therefore, the prosecution team has decided to accept his guilty pleas today to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.  

"Armed with a large knife, which he had purchased a few hours before the attack, Ward approached Ian Warson-Gladwish and Wayne Busst who were in the city selling the Big Issue magazine and began arguing with them.

"In the middle of a busy shopping and business district of the city, the defendant,  witnessed by commuters heading home and members of the public who were out shopping, brutally stabbed both of the victims to death.

"He then ran away from the scene of the crime and into a nearby cinema where he was quickly arrested, taken into police custody.

"Our thoughts are today with the family and friends of Mr Watson-Gladwish and Mr Busst."