Lifer admits trying to kill pensioner in knife attack five months after release from prison

Anthony Roberts was ordered to remain in handcuffs as he entered his pleas at Birmingham Crown Court Credit: PA Images

A serial offender who launched a horrific knife attack on an elderly woman just five months after being released from a life sentence has admitted charges of attempted murder and sexual assault.

Anthony Roberts, 56, was handed a life term in 1991 for a string of offences against women which had "striking similarities" with the attempted murder of a woman near the River Severn in Worcester in the early hours in May this year.

Flanked by two dock officers and two prison officers from HMP Long Lartin, a category A jail in Worcestershire, Roberts was ordered to remain in handcuffs as he entered his pleas at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday.

As well as attempted murder and a charge of assault by penetration, Roberts admitted having a knife in the South Parade and riverside area of Worcester.

The riverside path where the attack took place Credit: Matthew Cooper/PA

The Crown’s case against Roberts, of Amber Heights, Green Hill, Worcester, was not opened by prosecutor Raj Punia.

But a previous hearing at Kidderminster Magistrates' Court, held a day after the attack, was told Roberts was released on licence in December 2022.

He was arrested by police at about 2am on May 7 this year after officers were alerted by a member of the public who heard the victim screaming.

After the attack, the previous hearing was told, a diary entry was discovered at Roberts’ home along with unspecified “Jack the Ripper material” which had notes within it, while pornography was being streamed on a television.

Kate Hatton, prosecuting, told the earlier hearing: “Officers ran to the area concerned and observed a male stood over a female. The male was covered in blood, as was the knife.

'He was red-dotted with a Taser and he threw the knife to the ground'

“The male was seen by officers to be bending over the woman, seemingly still attacking the lady. The defendant was challenged and he ran.

“He ran a short distance and officers did not lose sight of him. He was red-dotted with a Taser and he threw the knife to the ground.”

Mrs Hatton listed numerous wounds, including multiple stab injuries, suffered by the victim, who police said was initially left in a life-threatening condition.

Mrs Hatton said Roberts threatened his victim with rape and death and made no comment to questions asked of him by police.

Judge Simon Drew remanded Roberts in custody for sentencing at Worcester Crown Court on October 2.

A list of Roberts’ previous convictions was read out at the previous hearing, starting with an offence of gross indecency with a child in 1982.

He was convicted of further sexual offences in 1983, 1984 and 1985, before being jailed for life in 1991 for offences of attempted murder, wounding with intent and possession of an offensive weapon.

His previous convictions also include being given eight months’ imprisonment at Bristol Crown Court in April 2019 for escaping from lawful custody.

Mrs Hatton told the magistrates’ court hearing that the convictions from 1991 had “striking similarities to the matter before the court today” and involved three attacks on females with weapons in underpasses in the West Midlands area.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...