A mental patient who killed a complete stranger in a supermarket car park is to be detained indefinitely in a secure hospital.
Paranoid schizophrenic Kevin Gale had stopped taking his medication before he stabbed Lee Turner, outside a Tesco superstore in Barnstaple, with a Spider-Man throwing knife.
In a three-day fact finding hearing at Exeter Crown Court, the jury today (Wednesday) found Gale responsible for the death of Mr Turner.
Mr Turner, 39, had gone to the shop to buy milk and was walking away when he was stabbed four times in the back and shoulder.
His dying words were ‘Why me? What have I done?’.
Gale, aged 51, who now uses the name Mr Kitkat, has a long history of mental illness but had lost touch with the crisis team in North Devon after his key worker left 18 months before the killing.
His family called the service repeatedly and his sister and adult daughter had both tried to get treatment for him after his behaviour became more bizarre. They felt they were brushed off.
On the day of the attack Gale was dressed in an outfit which included wedged Goth-style silver boots, black shorts and singlet and a bright blue bandana around his head.
His paranoid state led him to believe that Mr Turner had given him a ‘strange look’ as they passed each other outside the store.
CCTV showed Gale stopping in the foyer, getting the knife from his rucksack, then turning round and following the victim across the car park.
Gale, of Rackfield Court, Barnstaple, who is being treated at Langdon Hospital, Dawlish and did not attend court, was deemed unfit to plead at Exeter Crown Court but a jury found that he had committed the killing.
Judge Peter Johnson adjourned sentence but Gale will be made subject of a Hospital Order under the Mental Health Act when final psychiatric reports are ready next week.
Judge Johnson told the jury: “Thank you very much for your help in this tragic case. You are entitled to know what is going to happen.
“On Monday I will hear yet again from one of the psychiatrists and it is highly likely I will be making a hospital order.
“Attached to the order, as a matter of law, is a section 41 order that he cannot be released until it is decided he is safe to be released, if ever in the future.”
During a three-day fact-finding hearing the jury heard how Gale used a bright red Spider-Man knife with a nine centimetre blade to carry out the killing in broad daylight at 6.20pm on August 3 last year.
He stabbed Mr Turner once through the shoulder and three times in the back, causing fatal injuries to his lungs and other organs.
Passer-by Aaron Baggaley, who rushed to his aid, said his last words before he passed out were: “Why me? What have I done?”
The weapon was one of a set of three which Gale had bought from a novelty shop. The other two were found hidden in the speakers at his flat.
He also had other weapons, including a Samurai sword.
He walked away from the scene and home through the centre of Barnstaple as if nothing had happened but was in a state of extreme anxiety when he was arrested nine hours later at his flat.
Gale was identified by members of his family after an image taken from CCTV shortly after the murder was shown on the late evening television news.
When arrested, he stared and pointed at the police who had broken down his front door and was heard humming and making child like shrieks.
Mr Turner, originally from Bristol, was a family man with a young son. After his death his family said they had lost a much loved father, husband, brother and son.
Gale’s illness dated back 30 years but had been treated successfully for most of that time and he had never been in trouble with the police.
He was married for a few years but the relationship broke down because of his erratic behaviour.
He had an adult daughter who had resumed contact with him and had raised his case with the mental health crisis team.