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Woman ‘stabbed police officer in neck during mental health crisis’

Inner London Crown Court (PA)
Inner London Crown Court (PA)

A high-flying pharmaceutical consultant stabbed a Metropolitan Police officer in the neck after her family tried unsuccessfully to get her mental health treatment, a court heard.

Venice Burgess, 32, attacked PC Ryan Spaul with a knife as he attempted to arrest her for cutting up a lodger’s clothes and hitting him over the head with a bottle, it is said.

A bloodied PC Spaul was seen fleeing from the house as Burgess “chased” him and a police colleague down the stairs, Inner London crown court heard.

Burgess is now on trial, accused of attempted murder, possession of a knife, damaging property, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Isolyn Burgess told the court her daughter, a first class science graduate from the University of Greenwich, has no criminal record and a high-powered job with a pharmaceutical firm.

She was diagnosed with mental health problems at the age of 25, and did not like the high medication doseage she was placed on as it affected her ability to work and she feared it could cause fertility problems.

Mrs Burgess said her daughter was hospitalised for two months in late 2021, she would become “unpredictable” when not medicated, and by June 2022 there were growing concerns about her mental state.

“A friend came to spend time with us and she believed Venice put bleach in her food”, she said. “I called police and told them to come and take Venice to get help.”

She said police and paramedics came but said they “couldn’t do anything…as she was deemed to have capacity”.

The following day, on June 25, 2022, the friend accused Burgess of putting faeces in her food, the court heard.

“We both called police but no one came”, said her mother.

“My daughter would never hurt a fly in a normal frame of mind. But her mental health problems mean she has no inhibitions.”

Mrs Burgess said she had moved in with her daughter to look after her and had hidden the knives and tools.

The alleged attack on PC Spaul happened in the early hours of June 27, the court heard, after a lodger in Burgess’s home in Lewisham reported that she had cut up his clothes, bedsheets, and important documents, and thrown a bottle of beer at his head.

Burgess “pretended to be asleep” when she was first confronted by police, jurors heard, and eventually a decision was taken to arrest her.

PC Fiona Warr was one of the officers at the scene, and told the court she heard a “commotion” when PC Spaul started to arrest Burgess.

She said she rushed into the bedroom to find her colleague shouting “she has a knife” while attempting to restrain Burgess.

“I could see he had blood on his left arm”, she said. “I caught glimpses of what I believed to be a knife in her right hand.

“I made the decision to get out of the room.”

PC Warr said she and PC Spaul retreated as Burgess shouted “get out of the house”, and they both went downstairs.

“The suspect was right behind us, chasing us down the stairs.

“I could hear her chasing and she was close.”

PC Spaul was treated for a puncture wound in the back of his neck and an injury to his left arm.

“The reality is the officer’s injuries could have been very very serious”, said paramedic Hannah Martin.

In her statement, Burgess’s mother was also critical of the police intervention on the night of the stabbing.

“It was not handled properly”, she said. “My advice was ignored, I told police Venice was vulnerable, and they didn’t understand her condition.

“They ignored me and refused to let me upstairs which has resulted in someone getting hurt.”

Burgess, who is following the trial via a videolink, denies the charges. The trial continues.