Original article no longer available
22 April 2010
Oliver Pugh firstname.lastname@example.org
A Bermondsey man who fatally stabbed a stranger in the neck weeks after telling doctors he dreamt of killing people was jailed for at least 22 years yesterday.
Michael Bowden, 28, has a history of depression and was on bail for a racist attack on a shopkeeper when he murdered father-of-two Paul Martin in the street.
Police rushed to Greenwich Church Street at around 2.15am to reports of a fight and found Mr Martin with several stab wounds to his back and neck. The 25-year-old was taken to King’s College Hospital, but died of his injuries later that morning.
The Old Bailey heard that on March 29 last year Bowden had spent the evening drinking, before repeatedly trying to contact his girlfriend by phone without success.
Mr Martin, a plumber with two children, had been out socialising with his girlfriend and two close friends.
The court heard that Bowden randomly picked out Mr Martin, who had been waiting for a lift home after a night out, after flying into a rage over his girlfriend’s failure to answer her phone.
Bowden demanded: ‘What the f*** are you looking at?’ and knifed him five times in the back and neck during a struggle.
But Bowden had previously told a psychiatrist that he acted in self-defence after disarming Mr Martin and his friend of a lockknife.
His defence team had also pleaded diminished responsibility on the grounds that he had bipolar disorder – offering a guilty plea to manslaughter to avoid a trial on the charge of murder.
Bowden was prescribed antidepressants by his GP at around the time of the attack and was also referred to the Maudsley Hospital. Defence psychiatrist Peter Pierzchniak told the hearing: “He would find himself looking at strange men and being suspicious of their intentions towards him. He would then black out and become violent.
“He was concerned he could end up killing someone,” he said.
After Bowden told the psychiatrist about his violent dreams he was discharged the next day and given an appointment with the outpatient community team.
But Bowden’s defence was rejected by the jury and he was convicted of murder after just over an hour’s deliberation.
Lydia Martin, the victim’s mother, said in a statement: “The news of the death of our son in such a needless and violent end was absolutely devastating.
I could not believe what I was hearing and I was in a state of disbelief. I have found the situation so hard to come to terms with.”
Judge Giles Forrester described the murder as a ‘tragedy waiting to happen’ as he sentenced Bowden to life imprisonment on Wednesday.
The judge said: ‘You were carrying this knife and you used it to deadly effect on a stranger who annoyed you for some trivial perceived slight.
‘You had told the psychiatrist that you might end up killing someone. You were concerned about your capacity for violence, particularly when drunk.
‘You knew the dangers, yet you chose to go out on bail with a knife having been drinking.
This was in effect a tragedy waiting to happen.’
Bowden’s mum, Francis Stoat, 59, told the ‘News’ that she had battled to get help for her son before the attack and that now, in Belmarsh Prison, he was finally getting the help he needed. “They’ve got him on the right medication now,” she said. “At least I know where he is.”
Detective Inspector Chris Stanley from the Met’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: “This was a heinous crime.
I would like to thank the CPS and police team for a professional prosecution, and I would like to express my admiration for Paul’s family, who have shown great dignity and courage throughout this trial. “Bowden was a vicious and calculating thug who deserved to face the full force of the law.”