A REFUGEE who stabbed a Wigan man to death has been declared fit enough to face justice – nine years after the tragic killing.
Natanale Lakew was sent to a secure hospital indefinitely in 2004 after fatally knifing neighbour Stephen Bradley after the Ethiopian became infatuated with his partner.
But this week a judge heard that his psychiatrist believe that the 37-year-old is now fit to enter a plea and he will admit manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
The sudden and unusual development comes just days after another Wigan man John Rao, who three years ago was deemed by a court mentally unfit to stand trial for the murder of his sister Geeta and mum Leela at their Standish home, has now been deemed well enough to do so. When Lakew last appeared at Liverpool Crown Court in the summer of 2004 accused of murder, a 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.
Suzanne Goddard, QC, prosecuting, told Judge Gerald Clifton yesterday that the hospital order was recently reviewed. “His treating psychiatrist is of the view that he is now fit to plead.”
She told the court that it was understood that Lakew will plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility which is acceptable to the prosecution.
But she explained that as his QC was not present that would happen when he next appears for sentence.
When Lakew was sentenced in 2004 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 37-year-old 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.
Miss Goddard said that sentencing Lakew would be a difficult exercise and that meanwhile inquiries are being made with the Home Office about his status with regard to deportation.
She told the court that a report has also been requested from Lakew’s psychiatrist about “dangerousness”. He has been described as a “moderate risk of danger”, she said.
Lakew, who appeared via video link from Walton prison and assisted by an Amharic interpreter, was further remanded in custody until June 18 when he will be brought to court to enter his plea and be sentenced by a High Court judge.