'Superhuman' knife fanatic who attacked nine police is found insane

A KNIFE-WIELDING religious fanatic who fought off nine Sheffield police officers with what appeared to be "superhuman strength" has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Abderrahim El-Harti, 42, fought off the officers who used batons, CS spray, a police van and a Rottweiler to try to stop him as he marched through Sheffield chanting and carrying the weapon.

But El-Harti continued on, apparently undeterred by the police's efforts to stop him, and went on to attack Pc Matt Duffy with the 12in long carving knife. The officer's life was only saved by his protective vest.

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Today South Yorkshire Police described how Pc Duffy was stabbed twice in the chest before El-Harti lunged at his neck. The blade was stopped by the body armour with each blow.

Dog handler Pc Mark Adams also suffered minor injuries in the incident in the Queens Road area of the city in June last year.

Officers told the court the defendant appeared to have "superhuman strength". Even the attempt to ram El-Harti with a police van did not knock him over.

He was only stopped by a blow to the head with a baton when one officer feared his colleague's life was in immediate danger.

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El-Harti, from Heeley, Sheffield, was found not guilty by reason of insanity of wounding with intent and attempted wounding with intent by a jury at Sheffield Crown Court.

He was ordered to be detained indefinitely at a secure mental hospital by the judge, Mr Justice Openshaw.

The case was unusual because both the prosecution and the defence argued for this special verdict.

Today Detective Superintendent Colin Fisher said: "The jury found El-Harti not guilty due to insanity, a verdict which is seen as justice by the injured officers who are satisfied he will receive the care and treatment he obviously needs.

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"This incident was clearly terrifying for all police officers involved and demonstrates how patrolling officers are prepared to put themselves in danger to ensure public safety.

"The officers were brave and acted professionally throughout the incident and are a credit to the force."