'Joker' who stabbed man in leisure centre changing rooms given indefinite hospital order (From The Northern Echo)
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'Joker' who carried out Consett leisure centre stabbing handed indefinite hospital order
A PARANOID schizophrenic who heard the voice of The Joker from the Batman films in his head has been sentenced to an indefinite hospital order after a frenzied knife attack in a public gym.
Former chef Dale Pipe, 21, who armed himself with ten knives and an axe, savagely attacked Josh Henley, 22, as he used a urinal at Belle Vue Leisure Centre, Consett, County Durham.
After lurking in the male changing rooms for an hour he approached Mr Henley from behind and began to stab him in the back and neck with a kitchen knife.
Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, said: “When standing at the urinal he was unaware that he was being stabbed until he could turn and face the attacker.
"He thought that the blows to his neck and back were hard punches. On realising he was being stabbed he fought for his life in a way that the crown cannot do justice to.”
Mr Henley was eventually able to escape, after staff intervened, and it was then that Pipe introduced himself as the Joker.
He was seen posing topless in front of a mirror holding various knives and washing the blood from this hands as well as posting a message on Facebook that read: “Why So Serious? Ha ha ha”, a line from the Dark Knight film.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that the police later recovered a range of knives, an axe, syringes, steroids, duct tape and a balaclava from his bag after the attack at 2pm on January 28 this year.
There was also a notebook which had written in it "On the 16th I will kill someone.”
After being arrested he told police that if he had been successful in killing Mr Henley, he would have attacked others.
While on remand in Durham Prison, Pipe, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder and possessing offences weapons, attempted to mutilate his own face, like that of the Joker, as he said voices in his head were telling him to do so.
Mitigating, Stephen Thornton said Pipe, of Thornfield Road, The Grove, Consett, himself a fitness enthusiast, who used anabolic steroids, had suffered from auditory hallucinations from the age of 14.
He said: “The most influential voice The Joker. It was that voice led him to carve a ‘Joker’ face into his own face, leaving him very scarred.
“I do not seek to underplay this. It could have been a national tragedy.”
After the attack Mr Henley was taken by air ambulance to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, where he underwent a six hour surgical procedure.
He suffered 16 wounds and the court heard any one of them could have been enough to have killed him.
Sentencing Pipe to an indefinite hospital order, Judge James Goss described him as a very dangerous young man and in need of long term treatment.
He said: “The terrifying and ferocious nature of the attack was described in the victim statement that was made.”
"Physically and emotionally his life has been shattered.”
Pipe will be held at Rampton Secure Hospital in Nottinghamshire where he will receive psychiatric treatment for his condition.
Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Henley, of Fairways Consett, said: “I have had to wait some time for the sentencing hearing and I am relieved that the judge has sort fit to impose a sentence that will ensure Dale Pipe will not be a risk to anyone else in the future.”
- LEISURE centre staff who barricaded Dale Pipe in the changing room before armed police arrived have been praised for their actions.
Gerry Sydenham, head of the crown court unit at CPS North-East said the action of Belle Vue Leisure Centre employees prevented further tragedy and helped save Mr Henley’s life.
He said “When Dale Pipe walked into the Belle Vue Leisure Centre, it was his intent to take the life of another person, whoever that might happen to be. “Pipe was prevented from doing this by the brave intervention of leisure centre staff, whose selfless actions enabled the heavily injured victim to make his escape. “It is troubling to think how the outcome may have been significantly graver, had the staff not managed to contain Pipe in the changing rooms until police arrived at the scene.”
Detective Inspector Aelf Sampson, who led the investigation, also paid tribute to the actions of Pipe’s 22-year-old victim.
She said: “I would like to praise Josh’s single minded determination to survive and his own bravery in fighting off his attacker and during his recovery process.
“I have no doubt that if Josh hadn’t been both physically and mentally strong, Durham Constabulary would have been investigating a murder.
“The unprovoked, violent and sustained attack was an extremely rare and isolated incident where the suspect and the victim did not know each other. As disclosed in court, Pipe had made the decision to go out that day and kill as many people as possible and it is a case of an innocent young man being his first and, unluckily for him, his only victim.”
“The lives of both families have been changed forever because Dale Pipe’s actions.”
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