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"Psychotic" Ellesmere Port knifeman freed at Appeal Court

London's Appeal Court Credit: PA

A 'psychotic' Ellesmere Port man who ran through the town semi-naked, armed with two knives, has been set free by top judges on appeal.

Oil rig worker, Lee Simon Peter Connell, 37, of Ripon Avenue, Little Sutton, was caged for six months at Chester Crown Court on February 2.

Two men were shocked to see Connell running down the street 'swaying and stumbling and naked from the waist down' on December 20 last year. He was carrying two kitchen knives and shouting wildly for help, Lady Justice Macur told London's Appeal Court today.

Connell threw one of the blades in the men's direction but it was not clear if this was done 'deliberately', the judge added.

After throwing the second weapon into a garden, crazed Connell ran into a nearby Tesco. Only then were a security guard and an off-duty policeman able to get him under control.He was shouting that, 'people were after him with a gun and going to kill him', the court heard.

When police searched his home, they found a small amount of cocaine for 'personal use'.Connell was a 'long-term' user of the drug and had 'domestic' difficulties, including his mother having dementia.His girlfriend had also recently informed him she was pregnant.

Connell had been diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis and depression, the court heard. He admitted possession of a bladed article and cocaine and using threatening and abusive behaviour. But his lawyer, Gemma Maxwell, today argued his jail term should have been suspended.

Lady Justice Macur said Connell was in 'the midst of a psychotic episode, self-induced thought it may have been' during his rampage.

"The exceptional circumstances of this particular offence, and this particular appellant, lead us to the conclusion that it was wrong in principle not to suspend the sentence."

– Lady Justice Macur

The judge, who was sitting with Mrs Justice McGowan and Judge David Stockdale QC, allowed the appeal.She replaced Connell's six-month jail term with a six-month suspended sentence, enabling his immediate release.