A Co Armagh man who went on a terrifying rampage through Lurgan town centre armed with a 12-inch knife has been acquitted of three counts of attempted murder.
While the facts of that evening – April 11, 2022 – were agreed upon by both prosecution and defence, the jury acquitted Ben Gibson, from Glenfield Road in Lurgan, on all four counts “on the grounds of insanity”.
The 21-year-old, who was also acquitted of possession of a knife with intent to commit murder, was instead handed an indefinite hospital order with restrictions on the recommendation of the consultant psychiatrist, Dr Adrian East.
Addressing the jury at Craigavon Crown Court on Tuesday, Judge Patrick Lynch KC, said: “We can only hope that the defendant can be treated in such in a way as to ameliorate his condition with the possibility of, at some future date, being released but that’s obviously beyond my capacity to predict.”
The jury, who deliberated for less than half an hour, returned the verdict after hearing all the evidence the previous day.
They heard from three men who feared for their lives during an encounter with Gibson, two of whom had suffered serious stab wounds. The other was “running for my life”.
However, the key evidence in the case was presented by Dr East who said Gibson “has an established diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia” and that “he was experiencing an abnormality of mind at the time of the alleged index offences and that this prevented him from appreciating what he was doing was wrong. As such, I believe that Mr Gibson was insane.”
Gibson will continue to be held in a secure mental health facility in Belfast until the Department of Justice is satisfied that he is safe to be released.