A killer serving a life sentence for the murder of teenager Sophie Lancaster has been convicted of wounding after an attack on a nurse at the secure unit he is housed at in Preston.
Brendan Harris, 21, (pictured) was transferred to Guild Lodge, Whittingham after developing paranoid schizophrenia three years into his life sentence.
Following an incident at the psychiatric unit during which a fellow patient had to be restrained, Harris lashed out at a nurse, and punched him in the face, causing a fracture to his nose.
He admitted the attack but said he was acting in self defence as he said he felt threatened by his carer David Timson.
The jury was given only brief details of Harris’s criminal past during the three day trial at Preston Crown Court.
The panel was told of a conviction for causing grievous bodily harm with intent dating back to August 2007, which unbeknown to the jury related to Sophie’s boyfriend, Robert Maltby. But upon delivering the guilty verdict, following three and a half hours of deliberations, Judge Christopher Cornwall revealed Harris was “no ordinary patient in a psychiatric unit.”
Members of the jury looked horrified as the judge told them about te attack six years ago.
“There were severe consequences. Harris was declared to be a dangerous offender and he received an indeterminate sentence. That, I am afraid, is only half the story, because when GBH was inflicted upon there was a couple out in a park. GBH was inflicted upon the male and the beating that was received by his female companion resulted in her death.”
Harris was 15 when he was convicted of Sophie’s murder and the attack on her boyfriend in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, described by Judge Anthony Russell QC as “feral thuggery”.
Another youth, Ryan Herbert, also pleaded guilty to Sophie’s murder.
During Harris’s trial the prosecution said the couple were singled out not for anything they had done but because they followed the gothic subculture.
Harris was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 17 years and began his sentence in a young offenders institution but following a decline in his mental health was transferred to Guild Lodge in 2008.
Harris was not brought into court to hear the jury foreman announce the verdict as members of staff supporting him throughout the trial feared the high pressure situation would pose a risk to their safety.
Judge Cornwall told the jury he had worried that had they returned a not guilty verdict Harris would regard himself to be at liberty to attack staff at the unit on the basis he is a paranoid schizophrenic and believed he was under threat.
Harris will be sentenced in due course.