Man who stabbed stranger to death in Barnstaple Tesco car park admits manslaughter

Kevin Gale suffered from severe schizophrenia and in the months before the stabbing had stopped taking his medication. Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

A man with paranoid schizophrenia who stabbed a stranger to death in a Tesco car park has admitted manslaughter.

Lee Turner, 39, was stabbed four times outside the car park in Barnstaple in August 2018.

Kevin Gale, 54, who also goes by the nick name 'Kit Kat', admitted manslaughter by diminished responsibility at Exeter Crown Court today (9 December).

The court heard that Gale had stopped taking his medication in the weeks before the killing, and had '"disengaged" from mental health services.

Doctors said he was "about as unwell as you could be" at the time of the attack.

The court heard Mr Turner died after being stabbed in the back four times during the random attack, collapsing into the arms of a Tesco worker, saying "Why me?"

Lee Turner was stabbed in the back four times and collapsed onto a worker saying 'Why me?' Credit: BPM Media

Gale was sentenced in January 2019 to be detained indefinitely in a secure hospital.

He was deemed unfit to plead at the time, but was returned to Exeter Crown Court after his condition improved to make a plea.

The judge said despite his improved condition, he posed a danger to the public and would only be released from Langdon Hospital in Dawlish with the approval of the justice secretary.

Judge Peter Johnson said: "I am satisfied from the medical reports that you still represent a significant risk.

"It is plain that you are dangerous and that is going to be a lifelong position.

 "Your actions were wholly attributable to the paranoid schizophrenia.

Gale stabbed 39-year-old Lee Turner outside a Tesco car park in Barnstaple Credit: BPM Media

"You lost insight into your condition which led to your withdrawing from treatment and medication.

 “This sentence achieves the objective of rehabilitation while protecting the public in a fair and proportionate way.”

Dr Adrian James, the defendant's supervising clinician at Langdon, told the court Gale was seriously unwell at the time of the offence.

"He had just about the most severe mental illness you can have through no fault of his own", the doctor said.

"He has suffered with paranoid schizophrenia for about 40 years at the time of the offence and was about as unwell as he could be", the doctor said.

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