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Man tried to strangle girl with shoelace

PUBLISHED: 09:59 12 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 July 2010

A MENTALLY ill man, who tried to strangle a "vulnerable" 17-year-old girl with a shoelace after watching a TV programme about a serial killer, has been locked up indefinitely after a judge described him as a danger to the public.

A MENTALLY ill man, who tried to strangle a “vulnerable” 17-year-old girl with a shoelace after watching a TV programme about a serial killer, has been locked up indefinitely after a judge described him as a danger to the public.

Following the attack, 21-year-old Lee Tatum said he had watched a programme called Dexter and had then attacked the girl, who was living in a hostel in the Lowestoft area, Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday.

Tatum, of Yarmouth Road, Lowes-toft, admitted attempted murder and three offences of assault on two members of staff and a patient at the Norvic Clinic, near Norwich, where he was being treated after the attack.

Judge John Devaux described the attack on the woman as “determined” and said there had been a significant degree of premeditation.

He said he was satisfied that Tatum posed a risk of causing death or serious injury in the future and said that although he could be considered for release after serving 4½ years, he would only be freed when the parole board considered he was no longer a danger to the public. He added that he was satisfied that Tatum's mental-health needs could be met in prison.

John Farmer, prosecuting, said that on March 5 last year, Tatum had been drinking with the 17-year-old girl and one of her friends at a hostel.

During the evening, the 17-year-old girl had felt unwell and Tatum had told her friend that he would look after her. The victim went to bed but woke later to find she was being strangled by Tatum. She fought him off and during the struggle, suffered a tear to her ear where her earring was pulled out. “She was terrified,” said Mr Farmer.

The attack ended when she fell off the bed while struggling with Tatum and she managed to call the police.

Paramedics noticed she had an obvious ligature mark to her neck and a shoelace found in her room matched a shoelace found at Tatum's accommodation. Tatum later said in a statement to police: “It seemed to me that I was looking at what was happening from behind; in other words, watching myself.”

Matthew Gowen, for Tatum, said he had been in care since the age of 11 and had lived in 30 types of accommodation.

He said Tatum had tried to kill himself in the past and had been diagnosed as suffering from a severe personality disorder.

Mr Gowen said Tatum heard voices in his head and agreed with experts who felt he would continue to pose a risk of serious harm to the public.

He added that Tatum had showed remorse.

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