‘Torvill and Dean’ rollerskater ‘sped through streets on stabbing rampage’


A rollerskater sped through the streets stabbing people in an afternoon rampage – with one victim saying he was moving “like Torvill and Dean”, a court heard.

Benjamin Bridgeman, 38, stabbed three men and caused chaos while wielding “the biggest kitchen knife”, it was said.

Witnesses recalled panic and terror on the streets of Knowle, Bristol, describing the look on the defendant’s face as “like a horror film”.

A court heard that the carnage continued even as members of the public tried to fell him with a van and road signs – before he was eventually stopped by police.

Bridgeman, who was born with one arm, injured several people and is now facing eight charges, including three counts of attempted murder.

A jury has to decide if he knew what he was doing or knew it was wrong as experts have agreed he was suffering from a “disease of the mind”.

A special verdict of “not guilty by reason of insanity” is available, it has been said.

Bristol Crown Court today heard statements from several people involved in the incident, read by Richard Posner, prosecuting.

It was said that Bridgeman headed up Wells Road at around 3pm on February 25 and stabbed a man in the back before continuing on and slashing another in the head.

Members of the public then raised the alarm and went after Bridgeman – with one also getting hurt as he tried to intervene.

The defendant then skated away towards the centre of the city and was later detained by police using a Taser.

Aaron Smith was one of the men who confronted Bridgeman during the attacks, getting out of the car he was travelling in to give chase.

He and two other men pursued the defendant and put themselves in harm’s way, the court heard – using road signs as shields and makeshift weapons.

Mr Smith described chasing Bridgeman around some cars and said he saw him get knocked to the floor at one point – before jumping straight back up and fleeing.

Mr Smith said: “It was as if he wore the skates every day. I didn’t know how he was so quick and strong.

“I wanted to stop him leaving the scene, as such. He was willing to kill. It didn’t matter who was in his path. He was going to get them.

“When I looked in his eyes it was just like a horror film. It wasn’t, ‘oh no, I shouldn’t have done that’.

“He was willing to hurt.”

The jury was also read a statement written by Heath Birchenough, who rammed his van into Bridgeman in an attempt to stop him.

He said: “I could see that he had a knife in his hand.

“As soon as I saw the guy it was clear what he was going to do. It was clear to me he was intending to harm people.

“I thought it was terror-related to start with.

“The only way I thought I could help was to use the van. It was my intention to pin him to the floor using the van.

“I did not know what this guy was going to do – if he was going to harm anyone else. I had a shovel in the back.

“I thought ‘do I get out with the shovel?’.”

Mr Birchenough said he hit Bridgeman to the floor with his van, which then stalled – allowing the roller skater to get up and get away.

Robert Day – another of the men who chased Bridgeman – yesterday described how he saw a skater stabbing an “Indian kiddie”.

The court heard that he hit the defendant, then 37, with a sign, causing him to fall.

But he added that Bridgeman quickly got back up – and went for him.

Mr Day said: “Little did I know he was like Torvill and Dean on roller skates – he was like a spring.

“I got stabbed in the leg, I put my hand up and he stabbed me in the hand. I hit him in the throat with a sign.

“He was just blank, there was nothing there, all I could hear was the roller skates.

“He didn’t make a sound, even when he got hit with the car. He was like Superman.”

Bridgeman, who was born with one arm, was eventually stopped by police, of which dramatic body worn video footage was shown to the court.

Shouts of “get down” can be heard before officers detain the suspect, who can be seen wearing roller skates, a dark jacket, jeans and pink knee pads.

The bearded man – who says his name is “Ben” – is then treated for a cut to his hand.

In a statement to the court, Acting Police Sergeant Jefferson Palmer said he was called to reports of a multiple stabbing with a colleague.

They then confronted Bridgeman who produced a knife when instructed to get down, forcing the use of a Taser.

PS Palmer said: “The knife in question would have caused serious injury or even death.

“He dropped the knife and I stood on top of it to ensure it couldn’t have been used again.”

CCTV footage was also played to the jury of the defendant attempting to board a bus earlier on the day in question and skating in and around the local area.

Bridgeman is charged with charged with three charges of attempted murder and three charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He is also accused of attempted wounding with intent and having an offensive weapon.

The prosecution has told the court that Bridgeman was employed and of good character but had suffered a psychotic breakdown.

Mr Posner added that the jury will have to decided if the defendant “was insane when he did what he did.”

Bridgeman, of Eva Turner Close, Bristol, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The trial continues.