Alton farmer stabbed by his neighbour
A 54-YEAR-OLD who was suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness stabbed his neighbour four times with a chisel.
John Swinson, aged 54, attacked father-of-three Walter Keeling with the tool following a long-running dispute between the pair.
Mr Keeling was airlifted to hospital with 'life-threatening' injuries after being stabbed in the chest and stomach.
Moments earlier the 62-year-old farmer had approached Swinson at his home on Cheadle Road, Alton, to quiz him about scratch marks which had appeared on his new tractor.
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Swinson was sentenced to a hospital order at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday after doctors ruled he had been suffering from bipolar disorder at the time of the stabbing on December 27, and for most of his adult life.
But the disorder, which can cause unusual shifts in mood and energy, had never been diagnosed.
The court heard the illness meant he was incapable of sensibly assessing the level of risk in a situation, and would probably have believed his life was in danger when Mr Keeling approached him.
Consultant forensic psychiatrist, Doctor Helen Whitworth, said the condition was a 'significant' contributory factor to the stabbing.
Prosecuting, Fiona Cortese, said: "There had been an ongoing dispute between the two men for a number of years, and both men had been cautioned following an incident in 2007.
"Mr Keeling went up to the defendant's drive after his tractor had been scratched, and the defendant took a chisel from his van and stabbed him four times.
"He suffered four puncture wounds and was taken to hospital by air ambulance, but didn't need to undergo surgery.
"Mr Keeling was wearing a T-shirt and two sweatshirts at the time and the blade had gone through all three layers."
Police were called and Swinson was arrested. A chisel with Mr Keeling's blood on it was found at the scene. But the court heard it became clear while he was in police custody that Swinson was unwell.
He has been kept at the Hatherton Centre in Stafford since, where he has been receiving treatment and medication for his condition.
Antony Longworth, mitigating, said: "It's likely the defendant would not have been able to make a reasonable assessment of the situation and believed his life was at risk.
"He grabbed the first thing he could, which turned out to be a very sharp chisel. Both men are fortunate the injuries suffered were not more severe. The offence arose from an undiagnosed mental illness for which he had received no treatment."
Swinson, who pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding, was also made the subject of a restriction order for the public protection, which can only be lifted by Secretary of State for Justice.
The court heard he disputes he has any form of mental illness, which is part of the condition.
Sentencing Swinson, Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said: "The incident started as part of an ongoing history of difficulty between the two men. You lost control, but I accept you were suffering from a severe mental disorder.
"Despite several months of treatment and medication, you are still to come to terms with the illness, which is a considerable worry."