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Wetherspoon stabbing: Strood man acquitted of attempted murder outside The Flying Boat, Dartford

The son of a clergyman has been acquitted this morning of trying to murder a stranger outside a pub, by reason of insanity.

It followed a decision by prosecution lawyers during the trial that Joel Jueanville was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the attack in Dartford.

The incident took place outside the Flying Boat in Spital Street, Dartford. Picture: Google
The incident took place outside the Flying Boat in Spital Street, Dartford. Picture: Google

One of the psychiatrists revealed how 32-year-old Mr Jueanville had admitted he had been having hallucinations about voodoo and witchcraft.

Judge Philip St John-Stevens told the jury: "I don't normally comment on a verdict...but I can tell you that I believe this is the right verdict."

Mr Jueanville had followed the four-day trial from a room at a secure mental hospital and did not give evidence.

Mr Jueanville will now stay at the mental hospital and the judge will receive two reports from psychiatrists before making an order under the Mental Health Act.

Afterwards, the judge thanked the defendant for his behaviour in what he called "one of the most unusual cases I have ever been involved with in 30 years."

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

It was claimed by the prosecution that Mr Jueanville had plunged a knife into his unsuspecting victim on May 25 last year, after fearing "they were coming for him".

His barrister Oliver Saxby QC said after the hearing: "Insanity applies where someone has a defect of reason as a result of some sort of recognised mental illness and either they didn’t know the nature and quality of the act they did or they didn’t know that what they were doing was against the law.

"All the experts agreed he had a disease of the mind at the time he stabbed the victim – namely schizophrenia – and they all agreed he was suffering from symptoms of this at the time he stabbed the victim – namely delusions. "

Forensic psychiatrist Dr Tim Rogers had told Maidstone Crown Court how he spoke with the defendant for up to five hours.

Mr Jueanville told Dr Rogers he was having hallucinations about Voodooism and witchcraft, and heard voices telling him his life would be in danger if he did not stab his victim.

Dr Rogers told the jury Mr Jueanville believed "in that moment" he was acting to save himself and therefore the defence of insanity applied as he did not know what he was doing was legally wrong.

"There is no alternative or rational motive for Joel Jueanville to assault the victim in quite the way he did," he explained.

"For me it remains credible that he deludedly believed he was acting in a reasonable and necessary way in order to defend himself.

"He believed that if he didn't act that way, someone else would do the same to him. It was a life-saving act. The reality is not correct but we are talking about what he believed in that moment, " he added.

Victim Stephen Hooper had been drinking when Mr Jueanville suddenly attacked him from behind, the court heard.

Mr Jueanville, 32, of Frindsbury Road, Strood, had pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.

The incident happened in May last year, after the 59-year-old victim, from Dartford, had walked to the Flying Boat pub in Dartford.

Mr Hooper said in a statement: "I felt four very hard punches to my back..I felt instant pain. They were seriously hard blows. I reached round to my back with both hands and felt blood."

The hearing was adjourned until next month for reports to be prepared.

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