Man pleads guilty after stabbing 93-year-old twice in random park attack

PUBLISHED: 15:31 12 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:52 12 December 2017

Police at the scene in Potters Bar's Oakmere Park following the stabbing on July 6 this year.

Police at the scene in Potters Bar's Oakmere Park following the stabbing on July 6 this year.

Archant

A young man has pleaded guilty to stabbing a 93-year-old twice during a random attack in a park.

Police at the scene in Potters Bar's Oakmere Park following the stabbing on July 6 this year. Police at the scene in Potters Bar's Oakmere Park following the stabbing on July 6 this year.

Potters Bar resident Ryan Hewitt, 20, of Carpenter Way, was charged with wounding with intent and having an article with a blade or point, following the assault in Oakmere Park on July 6 this year.

He had initially pleaded not guilty to both charges, but after hearing the prosecution’s opening statement on Tuesday, December 12, Hewitt changed his pleas to guilty.

St Albans Crown Court heard that Stavros Leonida, 93, was sat on a bench at around lunchtime while he was waiting to meet his grandson, when he suddenly felt “a hard push”.

He then saw a young man running away, who was the only person he was aware of nearby prior to the attack, before his grandson arrived shortly afterwards.

“It was only then that they realised he had been stabbed in the back,” said prosecuting barrister Neil King. “They tried to walk him back to the doctors’ but he was unwell so an ambulance was called.

“Mr Leonida suffered two stab wounds to the back, they were serious. It required treatment and hospitalisation for a collapsed lung because of what the knife blade had done to him.”

Police then studied CCTV snap shots, which showed Hewitt – wearing a T-shirt, backpack and shorts – entering the park and fleeing the scene, Mr King said.

He was arrested a day later, during which officers noticed Hewitt had a “relatively deep cut” on his right hand.

They also found a T-shirt, shorts and backpack matching the CCTV footage, with Hewitt’s blood on them, as well as a large kitchen knife hidden in his room, the court heard.

Proceedings were then temporarily halted to allow Hewitt to privately talk with his barrister.

When the jury returned the charges were read out again, following which Hewitt admitted his guilt.

He was remanded in custody and the case was adjourned until February 15, 2018, to allow for psychiatric and pre-sentence reports to be completed.

The court heard Hewitt had been arrested after being taken to a clinic by members of his family who were concerned about his mental health.

Judge Cohen gave the 20-year-old no indication of his imminent sentence, but described his crimes as “extremely grave matters”.

Following the court case, Detective Constable Robert Wood, of the Hertsmere Local Crime Unit, said: “The victim, who was waiting to meet his grandson to walk the dog, initially thought he’d been punched.

“He was treated in hospital for his injuries and has since been discharged but continues to live with the trauma of what happened to him.

“This was an isolated, unprovoked attack and the victim did not know the offender.

“Following initial enquiries Hewitt was quickly arrested by officers.”

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