Tyne & Wear

'Joker' detained over Consett gym stabbing

Belle Vue Leisure Centre, Consett
Image caption The court heard how Pipe had "lurked" for an hour in the male changing rooms of the leisure centre

A knifeman who described himself as Batman's arch-nemesis The Joker has been detained for an unprovoked attack on a man in a gym.

Dale Pipe stabbed Josh Henley 16 times at Belle Vue Leisure Centre in Consett, County Durham, on 28 January.

The 21-year-old was found guilty of attempted murder and given an indeterminate hospital order.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how after the attack, Pipe introduced himself to staff as The Joker.

Following his arrest, police recovered a range of knives, an axe, syringes, steroids, duct tape and a balaclava from his bag, along with a notebook in which he had written "I will kill someone".

The court heard how Pipe hid in the male changing rooms of the leisure centre before approaching Mr Henley from behind and stabbing him in the back.

Staff at the centre intervened when they heard his screams.

'Why so serious?'

The court heard how on his Facebook account, Pipe was seen posing topless in front of a mirror, holding various knives and washing the blood from his hands.

He also posted a message reading "Ha ha ha why so serious?" a line from Christopher Nolan's 2008 The Dark Knight film.

Pipe pleaded guilty to attempted murder and three charges of having an offensive weapon at an earlier hearing.

Judge James Goss described him as a "very dangerous young man" and in need of "long-term treatment".

"Physically and emotionally his [Mr Henley's] life has been shattered," he said.

"But for his own bravery, strength and good fortune he would not have survived the attack."

Durham Police said if Mr Henley had not defended himself, the case would have been a murder investigation.

Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Henley said: "My life changed significantly as a direct result of the actions of Dale Pipe.

"I am relieved that the judge has seen fit to impose a sentence that will ensure Dale Pipe will not be a risk to anyone else in the future."

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