Masked man 'daubed blood on church wall in violent rampage'

A grieving widower daubed "I love you" in blood on a church wall as he attacked parishioners during a violent rampage, a court has heard.

Malcolm Holland, 56, armed himself with a meat cleaver and a knife in the attack at St Barnabas Church in St Paul's Cray, near Orpington, in July.

Wearing a Halloween mask, he smashed up cars and assaulted two elderly singers but no-one was seriously hurt.

He was sectioned by a judge under the Mental Health Act.

Holland, of Silverdale Road, St Paul's Cray, had earlier admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm, assault by beating, damaging property and having an article with a blade or point.

Women beaten

Croydon Crown Court was told Holland began the attack by smashing windows and assaulting the church rector's husband.

Nicholas Dunham, prosecuting, said Holland shouted: "My wife died of cancer and you did nothing about it" as he smashed up two cars parked outside the rector's house.

He then broke the glass in the church's front door prompting members of a local ladies' singing group, who were practising there, to barricade themselves inside the hall.

Holland forced his way in and attacked a woman in her 80s who, despite defending herself with a walking stick, was punched in the face and kicked after being knocked to the floor.

A fellow member of the singing group was beaten as she tried to stop the attack.

The court heard Holland, who had a history of mental illness before the death of his wife last year, said to his victims: "My wife was taken away from me, where was your God?"

The rampage only came to an end when Stephen Izegbu, who saw the attack from his home, confronted Holland.

'Anxiety and depression'

"After being hit on the head with a crutch, which caused heavy bleeding, he wrestled Mr Holland to the ground and kept him there, screaming and shouting, until the police arrived," Mr Dunham said.

Officers inspecting the scene found the words "I love you" painted in blood on the wall.

Police also recovered a meat cleaver and a lock knife which Holland admitted were his but did not used in the attack.

The court heard Holland, who has a son, began suffering anxiety and depression after being taken hostage during a robbery at a petrol station.

Judge Daniel Flahive sentenced him to serve a hospital order in addition to a restriction order after hearing evidence from the doctor who is treating him.

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