71-year-old psychiatric patient from Leek hit pair with hammer in violent assault
FORMER Broadmoor patient Peter Johnson is back in a secure psychiatric unit after attacking a woman with a hammer in her garden.
The pensioner hit Amanda Higgs on the head twice and her husband Michael in the face before Mrs Higgs grabbed the weapon from him.
Johnson, aged 71, of Leek, then calmly walked away as if nothing had happened.
When approached by police he told them: "I need to speak to you about an incident. I've just hit two people over the head with a hammer."
Johnson pleaded guilty to wounding Mrs Higgs with intent, common assault on Mr Higgs and possessing an offensive weapon and a knife.
At Warwick Crown Court, Johnson, of Chorley Street, was made subject to a hospital order under the Mental Health Act.
On the recommendation of two psychiatrists, the judge also made a restriction order under which Johnson will be detained in a secure psychiatric unit 'without limit of time'.
Prosecutor Richard Franck said Mrs Higgs had known Johnson for about five years after her daughter Chelsey married his son Neil.
But in 2010 there was a rift because of Johnson's behaviour, and the Higgs family made it clear they wanted no contact with him.
They later relented – only to discover him making offensive comments on Facebook.
As a result he was told to stay away from the Higgs family and their home in Edward Bailey Close, Binley, Coventry, for good.
But in June last year Chelsey told her mother Johnson was selling his home in Leek and intended to move to Coventry – to an address just a street away from them.
On June 13, Mrs Higgs was in her front garden with her husband when Johnson turned up saying he wanted to discuss his proposed move.
Mrs Higgs was shocked to see Johnson, who was carrying a brown hessian bag.
"Mr Johnson reached into the bag and, without warning, produced a lump hammer and raised it above his head and with full force smashed it across the top of her head twice," said Mr Franck.
Mr Higgs tried to stop the attack and was hit in the face with the hammer, causing a lump and bruising. Mrs Higgs, who was bleeding profusely from a wound to her head which needed four stitches, was able to grab the hammer from Johnson and throw it away.
When he was arrested and interviewed Johnson, who also had a kitchen knife in the bag, made no comment, although he later wrote a letter of apology to Mrs Higgs from prison.
Mr Franck added that in July 1969 Johnson had been committed to Broadmoor, with a restriction order, for the attempted murder of a man who had rejected his sexual advances, but was discharged after 15 years.
David Murray, for Johnson, said he had expressed remorse in his letter to Mrs Higgs.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Dinesh Maganty said Johnson suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and 'requires treatment in hospital for his own protection and the protection of others'.
He added: "I think a restriction order without limit of time would have to be very seriously considered by the court."
Judge Peter Carr told Johnson: "You attacked Amanda Higgs with some ferocity. In some ways it is surprising and very fortunate that the injuries she suffered were not more serious."