Justice at last

Monument Mansions where the incident occured and (below) Stephen Bradley
Monument Mansions where the incident occured and (below) Stephen Bradley

A MENTALLY ill man who stabbed another man to death has finally admitted manslaughter – nine years after the tragedy.

Natanale Lakew was sent to a secure hospital indefinitely in 2004 for fatally knifing Wigan neighbour Stephen Bradley (pictured) after the Ethiopian became infatuated with his victim’s partner and also believed the couple were planning to kill him.

Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley

A Liverpool Crown Court jury found he was unfit to enter a plea and another jury ruled that he had committed the unlawful act of stabbing Stephen Bradley to death. But psychiatrists recently declared the 37-year-old now fit to enter a plea and consequently yesterday he pleaded guilty to unlawful killing on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

He denied a charge of murder and that is not to be proceeded with. A date for his sentencing was not fixed as a necessary report from his psychiatrist is not yet ready.

Suzanne Goddard, QC, prosecuting, told the court that all the psychiatrists who have dealt with Lakew agree that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing.

“He is still suffering from schizophrenia managed by medication and there is obviously concern about how this is best to be managed and whether it can be managed within any secure environment,” she said.

Peter Birkett, QC, defending, said: “This is a difficult case in the sense there are a number of options which will have an enormous impact on his future for quite some time.

“I want to consider this in conjunction with the experts and one or more may have to attend court on the next occasion.”

When Lakew appeared eight years ago the court heard that he became infatuated with his neighbour Julie Moxon and began making a nuisance of himself.

On August 28, 2003 Lakew encountered her and her partner Mr Bradley near Monument Mansions in Wigan Lane, where they all lived and there was an exchange of words.

When the couple got back to their fourth-floor flat Lakew, whose flat was opposite theirs, was waiting for them on the landing armed with a large kitchen knife.

He stabbed Mr Bradley three times in the chest and once in the back of the leg and he collapsed to the floor. The emergency services were summoned and Mr Bradley was rushed to nearby Wigan Infirmary but he had suffered major blood loss and died on the operating table.

Lakew arrived in this country from Ethiopia in July 2001 and after seeking political asylum was granted refugee status the following June.

He was living in London but then moved to Wigan and was given the flat to share with another man.

Lakew, who appeared in the dock yesteday assisted by an Amharic interpreter, was further remanded in custody at Walton prison.

Relatives of Mr Bradley watched proceedings from the public gallery but Miss Moxon was not present.