Knife-wielding assailant attacked five people in shopping centre, court told

·4-min read

A knife-wielding assailant caused “widespread panic” in Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre as he randomly attacked five people, a court heard.

Shoppers ran for their lives and dived for cover as Raphael Chevelleau, 43, wounded three people and attempted to wound two others as he dashed through the mall.

Chevelleau earlier bought a kitchen knife on the morning of October 11 2019, from Blackley Pound Store near his flat in Rochdale Road, Blackley, before he caught a bus into the city.

Manchester Crown Court heard he entered the Arndale at about 11.05am and shortly after went into a baby-change room, where he unwrapped the knife packaging and left with the stainless steel chef’s knife in his jacket pocket.

Andrew Ford, prosecuting, said: “With no warning he broke into a run, wielding the knife, and randomly stabbed five members of the public.

“He caused widespread fear and panic among the general public visiting the Arndale Centre that day and a sense of pandemonium as people fled.

Stabbing at Manchester Arndale Centre
There was widespread fear and panic, the court heard (Peter Byrne/PA)

“Witnesses found it unnerving he was not saying anything.

“People shouted at him to stop. It had no effect.”

His first victim was a 61-year-old engineer, who Chevelleau stabbed in the back.

The defendant swiftly moved on to a 35-year-old woman walking with her husband in the centre.

The court heard he ran past them before he returned and swung the knife towards her stomach and grazed her.

The woman later recalled Chevelleau had a “wide cheesy smile” as he attacked her.

Chevelleau next targeted a 45-year-old woman pushing her baby in a pram, who had a lucky escape as the knife came close to her ribs.

A 21-year-old woman from Ireland, visiting the city with friends for an 18th birthday celebration, was then attacked as their group sat outside a Starbucks cafe with suitcases in tow.

She told the court that people were shouting “everybody run” and a crowd “literally parted” as the defendant was chased by a security guard.

Stabbing at Manchester Arndale Centre
A police officer and ambulances outside the Arndale Centre in Manchester (Peter Byrne/PA)

In a statement she said: “The man was looking right through me and looking as if he really wanted to hurt me.”

Chevelleau grabbed her and stabbed her right shoulder and right bicep.

He attacked his final victim, a 52-year-old female department store worker, as he ran out of the Arndale.

She said she joined others “running for their lives” and felt an impact on her left arm and back as she grabbed a railing down steps.

She took refuge in the Arndale after Chevelleau stabbed her and recalled: “I couldn’t move any more, if he comes back he will kill me. I thought I was finished.”

Mr Ford said only the layers of her clothing, including a bubble coat, meant she was not more seriously wounded.

Chevelleau dumped the knife in a waste bin in the street after his violent spree lasting just one minute and 27 seconds.

As police approached he shouted: “I’m doing this for my people, it’s political. I don’t like this Government. I don’t like black people, I don’t like white people, I don’t like Asian people.

“This is because of the way I have been treated.”

Stabbing at Manchester Arndale Centre
People ran for their lives, the court heard (Peter Byrne/PA)

Following his arrest at the scene he later told officers in custody: “I was going to stab my ex-girlfriend but I couldn’t be bothered to travel there so I took it out on someone in town.

“I’m guilty as sin. I should have done a bank instead.”

Mr Ford said a number of uninjured eyewitnesses were “very badly affected” by the incident, as they suffered shock, stress, confusion and anger.

Chevelleau pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three counts of wounding with intent and two counts of attempted wounding.

Sentencing is expected on Monday.

The defendant appeared at the hearing by videolink from Ashworth high security hospital.

Chevelleau suffers from a schizophrenic illness which has been resistant to treatment, the court heard.

He was admitted to hospital in 2006 for a psychiatric illness, while his mother said he was diagnosed in prison with schizophrenia when he was 21.

Regular cannabis user Chevelleau has 56 previous convictions dating back to 1998, but had not offended since 2007 and had not been subject to orders under the Mental Health Act from 2011.

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Martin Lock told the court he thought it was “highly unlikely” Chevelleau would have committed the offences if he had not been suffering from schizophrenia.

He said there was “a wealth of evidence” that – unknown to medical practitioners and family members – his mental state deteriorated ahead of the stabbings.

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