Crazed knifeman caught in Simonstone after police manhunt

Police respond to reports that the suspect has been spotted on Whalley Road. A190710/1a

Police respond to reports that the suspect has been spotted on Whalley Road. A190710/1a

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A CRAZED knifeman who bit off a woman’s nose in a spree of terror and violence in a Ribble Valley village could be facing life in jail.

Robert MacKenzie Wilson (39), who is already serving a life term behind bars, attacked Jane Ireland in Padiham, which sparked an eight-hour police manhunt through Simonstone in July last year.

Armed officers and police dogs swarmed around the village, putting the primary school on lockdown before the knife-wielding convict was caught. Wilson admitted wounding Ms Ireland with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and assaulting PC Mark Rigby with intent to resist arrest.

The defendant, of Selkirk Street, Burnley, had earlier admitted aggravated burglary at Bank Terrace, Simonstone, and having an offensive weapon, charges relating to an incident hours after the wounding.

Burnley Crown Court heard how, at the time of the offences, Wilson was on licence from a life sentence, imposed in 2003, after he was convicted of three woundings with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and that he had been recalled to jail.

The hearing was told a psychiatric report stated the defendant had a personality disorder and had been drunk and perhaps taken drugs when he struck last July.

Police started an eight-hour manhunt after the early hours assault in Padiham by Wilson, who went on to threaten another woman.

Armed officers and police dogs scoured the Simonstone area and the police helicopter was scrambled to look for the offender, who was thought to have been hiding in fields or a house nearby.

The attack victim went to a neighbour’s home for help and was taken to hospital. Hours later a woman in Bank Terrace was threatened with a knife by a man who demanded her car keys, police said.

Wilson was then said to have crashed her car into a wall as he tried to get away and fled on foot. Police were called about 7-30 a.m. after the woman, who had been confronted in her home, managed to get to a neighbour’s house to raise the alarm.

Residents were told to stay in their homes by police and St Peter’s Primary School was told to “lockdown” while officers stood guard outside. Police sealed off Simonstone Lane as part of the manhunt and this brought rush hour traffic to a standstill through the village.

Wilson’s terror spree was brought to a halt by police in Clough Lane when he was arrested and taken away for questioning.

He has spent the majority of his time since his arrest on the intermediate or hospital wing at Preston Prison and was on medication.

Wilson now faces either another life sentence or an indeterminate term for public protection and Judge Jonathan Gibson, who had read medial reports on Wilson, adjourned the case until November 21st for the Probation Service to look at the issue of dangerousness.

He told the court: “I think it’s essential I have a report from the probation service.”

Wilson’s solicitor Gillian Crossley told the hearing: “He appreciates the options in relation to sentence are very, very limited.”