Birmingham bus killer detained indefinitely

Simelane is arrested by police just hours after the murder of Christina Edkins. Picture: Newsteam
Simelane is arrested by police just hours after the murder of Christina Edkins. Picture: Newsteam
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A MENTALLY ill man has been detained indefinitely for stabbing a schoolgirl to death in a “chilling” knife attack on a bus.

Phillip Simelane killed 16-year-old Christina Edkins in March in Birmingham after being released unsupervised from prison three months earlier, despite worries about his mental state.

Ordering Simelane to be detained in a secure psychiatric unit, Mrs Justice Thirlwall expressed concern that the 23-year-old was not receiving treatment at the time of the killing.

An inquiry has been launched into why he was freed from prison without supervision.

The High Court judge said it was “difficult to understand” why Simelane was living on the streets in the months before he attacked the schoolgirl despite concern about his mental state.

Christina died within minutes after being stabbed in the chest as she travelled to school.

Simelane, from Walsall, who admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, had been sleeping on the bus prior to the random stabbing, which occurred after he was “overwhelmed” by his mental illness.

Imposing a hospital order without limit of time, the judge told African-born Simelane: “Anyone who sat here and listened to the background to this case and read the many documents and statements will be disturbed to read that you were living in the community with an illness of that severity, living rough with no medical help or indeed any other help at all.

“At the time you attacked Christina, you were suffering from a serious mental illness.

“Your mental function was wholly abnormal. That is why you killed Christina – in your deluded state you thought she was a danger to you.

“It is difficult to understand how it came about that in December 2012 someone with your level of illness should have been sleeping rough with no-one to look after you.”

The court heard that an experienced specialist registrar in psychiatry had insisted Simelane needed in-patient treatment on at least two occasions prior to the killing. However, the treatment was not made available to Simelane, who had two previous convictions for knife-related offences.

Referring to an incident a year before the fatal stabbing in which Simelane made death threats towards two schoolgirls on a bus, the judge went on: “Those who gave statements – ordinary laypeople – were of the view that you were mentally ill.

“The terrible reality is that Christina was the person who happened to be on the bus on the day you were overwhelmed by your illness.”

Simelane was released from jail in December last year after serving a four-week sentence for “vehicle interference”.

The court heard his mental health problems began in his mid-teens and coincided with several criminal convictions.

The attack on Christina, a pupil at Leasowes High School in Halesowen, in the West Midlands, was captured on CCTV footage which was not shown to the court.

The judge, addressing an impassive Simelane, said: “You saw Christina get on the bus and CCTV shows in chilling detail you were watching her. After a few minutes you walked towards her and stabbed her.”

Other passengers did all they could to treat Christina but when paramedics arrived just moments later they found she was not breathing and had no pulse.

Simelane was arrested about four and a half hours after the stabbing in a nearby street.

A police search of the area led to the recovery of a white bag containing the weapon used to stab Christina, a mobile phone, a smoked joint, and a piece of paper bearing Simelane’s fingerprints.

The judge said it was clear Simelane had been suffering a “pervasive and pernicious” form of mental illness at the time of the attack.

In July 2012, Simelane was jailed for threatening his mother with a knife and was handed a restraining order in an incident in which he also punched a police officer.