A violent offender who stabbed a young mother in the face and neck days after his release from prison has dramatically changed his plea and admitted trying to kill her.
Josephine Conlon, 36, had been pushing her baby in a pram in Streatham, south-west London, when she was set upon by Mark Brazant on the afternoon of December 30 last year.
Brazant, 44, who had gone awol upon being freed from jail on Christmas Eve, stabbed her seven times in the face and neck before running off.
At his trial, Brazant had denied meaning to seriously injure Mrs Conlon and a jury was discharged after failing to reach a verdict despite more than 40 hours of deliberations.
But on Thursday, he admitted attempted murder after the prosecution called for a retrial.
Previously, the court had heard how Brazant, who has paranoid schizophrenia, had a history of attacking lone women for no reason and had a conviction for carrying a blade.
In January 2017, he collided with a woman, swore at her, grabbed her arm and shoved her away.
On November 26 last year, he attacked four women on the same day, grabbing one by the neck after accusing her of smiling at him, and punching another for laughing.
He pleaded guilty to three charges of battery and one of common assault, but was released on licence from Thameside Prison on Christmas Eve to spend a year on post-sentence supervision.
On his release, he reported to the probation service but records show he was asked to return the following week as Thameside had sent him to the wrong office.
Brazant was reported missing after he failed to turn up at a supported house for people with mental health problems where he was meant to stay.
On December 30 last year, Mrs Conlon was returning home after meeting other new mothers at a local bakery.
CCTV footage showed the moment she crossed paths with Brazant in the street, prompting the defendant to follow her.
Mrs Conlon told jurors that she first realised she was “in danger” when she was shoved forcefully in the back.
She fell into a driveway, and the buggy containing her baby daughter rolled on to the kerb and became wedged next to a parked car.
Mrs Conlon told jurors: “I remember thinking he had pushed me into the driveway because he was going to rape me.
“Then he didn’t, he just started hitting me.
“I realised I was being stabbed. I was screaming a lot because I was not in the road so I wanted somebody to hear me.
“I was ducking and trying to get away and trying to get up on to my feet.
“I could feel blood. The adrenaline took away pain but I could feel things dripping.”
She added: “I managed to get up on my feet and that’s when he turned and ran away.”
She screamed for help and neighbours came to her aid before medics arrived.
Mrs Conlon, who was supported in court by her husband Greg, was discharged from hospital the next day but continues to have treatment for scars to her face and neck, the court heard.
In the early hours of January 2, Brazant walked into Wandsworth police station carrying a knife, and said he had “stabbed a person on the street two days earlier”.
During his trial, Brazant, of Ealing, west London, had denied he intended to kill Mrs Conlon, saying he was hearing voices telling him to hurt someone.
He said he chose Mrs Conlon because she was small, female, pushing a buggy and he did not think she would fight back.
Having stabbed her repeatedly, he told himself “that’s enough, that will do” and left, he said.
The court heard Brazant was on medication for his mental health condition but had stopped taking it.
He had admitted unlawful wounding, but denied attempted murder and an alternative charge of wounding with intent.
Brazant entered his new guilty plea via video link from Three Bridges medium secure hospital.
Mrs Conlon sat in court with her husband by her side.
Defence lawyer Oliver Renton said: “This is not a matter which has been unaffected by the inability because of the current pandemic to be heard again this year.
“Mr Brazant was told the matter could not be resolved until 2021 at trial and his pleas follow on from that.”
Judge Mark Lucraft QC set a sentencing date for September 16 and remanded him into custody.
Acting Detective Sergeant Mark Pascall, of Scotland Yard, said: “I am pleased with today’s result as Brazant originally claimed he wasn’t in sound mind at the time but his words and actions following the attack showed otherwise.
“It was clear Brazant had a clear intent that day to cause harm. He is dangerous and unpredictable.
“I commend the victim for her bravery throughout the trial and courage to give evidence in front of the man who caused her serious harm.”