Watch: The mentally ill man who tried to kill woman pushing buggy
A violent offender who stabbed a woman in the face and neck as she pushed her baby in a pram has been given a life sentence.
Josephine Conlon, 36, was attacked by Mark Brazant on 30 December last year as she went home from meeting other new mothers at a bakery.
Brazant, 44, who had been freed from prison days earlier on Christmas Eve, stabbed her seven times before running away.
At trial, he denied intending to seriously injure the mother but later admitted attempted murder.
He was sentenced on Wednesday to life, with a minimum hybrid hospital and custodial term of 11 years, at the Old Bailey.
Judge Angela Rafferty QC described it as a “ferocious, unprovoked attack” and said Brazant was “totally unpredictable”.
In a victim impact statement read at Brazant’s Old Bailey sentencing on Wednesday, Conlon said: “It has been almost nine months since the attack and although I worked really hard to rehabilitate myself, it feels my life is on hold.
“I struggle with large crowds and I am unable to leave my house after dark.
“I am a very positive and social person and I love being busy. Before the attack I used to pack my weekends and evenings full.
“There have been periods where I have been very low… and it took me six months before I could go back to work.”
CCTV showed Conlon crossing paths with Brazant in the street in Streatham, south London, and he followed her.
She was shoved in the back and fell into a driveway as her baby daughter’s buggy rolled on to the kerb and wedged next to a parked car.
She told jurors during the trial: “I remember thinking he had pushed me into the driveway because he was going to rape me.
“Then he didn’t, he just started hitting me.
“I realised I was being stabbed. I was screaming a lot because I was not in the road so I wanted somebody to hear me.”
The mother said she felt blood dripping, and managed to get to her feet, prompting her attacker to flee.
She screamed for help and neighbours arrived to aid her before medics arrived.
Conlon was discharged from hospital the next day but is still being treated for scars to her face and neck.
Speaking on Wednesday, she said the wounds proved “very hard to come to terms with” but believed she was “lucky”.
“I also feel I failed my daughter for walking her into such a dangerous situation and witnessing the attack on me. It could have been so different,” she said, dismissing Brazant’s words of remorse as “hollow and meaningless”.
However, Judge Rafferty said the mother “showed extreme courage when you (Brazant) attacked her, she was not the defenceless woman you thought you had at your mercy. She fought back.”
The court heard her employer tried to make her feel safe by providing security outside her home while Brazant was at large, and had received unwanted press attention.
Husband Greg said he was careful where to stand with his wife, so he didn’t frighten her.
He added: “I hope one day we can get our life back as before. There will always be a shadow of what happened.”
Brazant, of Ealing, west London, walked into Wandsworth Police Station carrying a knife in the early hours of 2 January, saying he had “stabbed a person on the street two days earlier”.
He told his trial that he did not mean to kill Conlon and heard voices telling him to hurt someone.
The court heard he chose Conlon because she was small, female and pushing a buggy, and he thought she would not fight back.
He said after stabbing her he told himself “that’s enough, that will do” and left.
The court was told Brazant has paranoid schizophrenia, had stopped taking medication for his mental health condition, has a history of attacking lone women for no reason, and had a conviction for carrying a blade.
In November last year, he attacked four women on the same day.
He grabbed one by the neck after accusing her of smiling at him and punched another for laughing.
Brazant pleaded guilty to three charges of battery and one of common assault but was released on licence from Thameside Prison for a year of post-sentence supervision.
However, he was reported missing after failing to arrive at a supported house for people with mental health issues, where he was supposed to be staying.
In January 2017, he collided with a woman, swore at her, grabbed her arm and shoved her away.