Devon

Man detained for Barnstaple Tesco car park killing

Lee Turner Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Lee Turner was stabbed in a Tesco car park in Barnstaple

A man who stabbed a stranger to death in a supermarket car park in north Devon has been sentenced to be detained indefinitely in a secure hospital.

Kevin Gale, 51, who has paranoid schizophrenia, was unfit to plead at Exeter Crown Court.

But a jury at a three-day hearing last week unanimously ruled he killed Lee Turner, 39, in an attack on 3 August outside a Tesco in Barnstaple.

Gale followed shopper Mr Turner and stabbed him in the back and chest.

Mr Turner suffered three 6cm (2.4in) deep wounds and died from "catastrophic blood loss", the court heard.

'Spiderman' knife

Gale, from Rackfield Road, Barnstaple, said Mr Turner gave him a "strange look" and made him feel intimidated.

He followed Mr Turner for about 100 yards (90m) before the attack.

A throwing knife with Spiderman insignia and a 9cm (3.5in) blade was found close to the scene and Gale had knives and a Samurai-style sword in his house, the court heard.

Jurors were asked to determine if they were "sure the defendant killed Lee Turner".

Image caption Gale followed his victim about 100 yards before the attack

Psychiatrists told the court Gale was unfit to plead and he did not attend court then or for his sentencing.

In the brief sentencing hearing, Judge Peter Johnson told the court it was a "particularly tragic" case.

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He said Gale had suffered with mental health issues for many years and his condition had deteriorated after a key worker left their role 18 months before the stabbing.

A spokesman for Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which runs county mental health services, said after the ruling it was "an extremely sad case" and it had commissioned an independent investigation into the incident.

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