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Man who stabbed NTU lecturer 12 times sectioned indefinitely by judge

A man who stabbed his former university lecturer 12 times has been sectioned indefinitely after appearing in court today.

Ryan Usher, who suffers from a chronic delusional disorder, armed himself with two knives before walking onto Nottingham Trent University’s Clifton campus and locating Dr Neil Turnbull outside his office.

He sat waiting for the Philosophy lecturer before charging towards him and repeatedly plunging a knife into his back and left side.

The 48-year-old only stopped when Dr Turnbull’s colleagues heard his screams and pleaded with Usher to drop the knife.

Thinking he’d done enough to kill Dr Turnbull, Usher ended the frenzied attack and waited for police to arrive.

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He was arrested and later charged with attempted murder and possession of an offensive weapon in relation to the incident on 31 January 2022.

He also went on to be charged with stalking over emails sent to a University of Nottingham employee in which he professed his “love” for her.

Usher was further charged with assault by beating following an incident where Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome was spat on in Nottingham, on 22 January last year.

Following an earlier hearing during which Usher was found by a judge to be unfit to face trial due to his mental illness, a jury on 2 December found that he had committed the acts described on the charge sheet. The judge adjourned sentencing pending the outcome of a psychiatric report.

Today (10 February 2023), Usher appeared at Nottingham Crown Court via video link from a psychiatric hospital for sentencing.

Sectioning him indefinitely under sections 37 and 41 of the Mental Health Act 1983, Judge Stuart Rafferty KC told him the acts he had committed were “appalling” but that he was satisfied they were borne out of a “chronic delusional disorder” – one that was difficult to treat even with medication.

He told Usher he would be detained in a psychiatric hospital until the Secretary of State for Justice, or a Mental Health Tribunal panel, decided it was safe for him to be released into the community.

Judge Rafferty told him: “You must resign yourself to the fact any progress that is made with you will be slow or minimal – and that for the foreseeable future, you will likely remain where you are.”

During the finding of fact hearing in December 2022, the jury heard how Usher’s delusional disorder caused him to fixate on people he believed were part of a conspiracy.

The hearing also heard that in a police interview, Usher stated his intention had been to kill Dr Turnbull and that he felt “ashamed” he was still alive. He also disclosed that he had been practising the attack by stabbing a punch bag at home.

The jury heard Dr Turnbull, who had worked at Nottingham Trent University for 28 years, had just left his office ahead of an 11 am lecture when he was attacked by Usher, who he taught between 2013 and 2016.

After receiving first aid at the scene, Dr Turnbull was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for multiple stab wounds.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Dr Turnbull said that during the attack he believed he was going to die. He went on to say that he had suffered injuries from which he is still recovering.

Following today’s sentencing, Detective Sergeant Alan Prentice of Nottinghamshire Police, who investigated the attack on Dr Turnbull, said:

“This was one of the most shocking acts I have had to deal with during my policing career.

“The lecturer had dedicated 28 years to teaching at the university and it is appalling he should be attacked in this way.

“He has spoken very frankly of the appalling impact Usher’s actions have had on his life and I would like to commend him for the bravery and dignity he has shown throughout the legal process.”

Inspector Karl Thomas, of the City South neighbourhood policing team, which covers Clifton, added:

“This was a terrible incident for everyone involved and my thoughts continue to be with Dr Turnbull as he continues his recovery from this awful ordeal.

“Thankfully, incidents such as this are exceptionally rare and we have been working closely with the university to offer staff reassurance.”

A spokesperson for Nottingham Trent University said: “Our primary concern throughout this incident has been the welfare of our colleague who was the victim of an isolated and unprovoked attack.

“This was an extremely traumatic incident for him to go through, which also had an impact on his family.

“We have provided him with extensive support throughout this past year and continue to do so, and are supporting all those other colleagues who have been personally affected.

“We are grateful to our colleagues who reacted quickly and bravely to the situation, and were able to intervene until the police arrived.”

Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome added she was pleased Usher had been dealt with having been assaulted by him last year.

She said: “Whilst it pales in comparison to Mr Usher’s other acts, a member of the public spitting in my face in my own constituency was an unnerving experience. I’d like to thank Nottinghamshire Police for their swift response and investigation.

“My thoughts are with Dr Turnbull as he continues to recover from this horrific attack which very nearly cost him his life.”

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