Man 'sectioned' over stabbing of police officer in Cleveleys

Ashton was arrested in Poulton
Ashton was arrested in Poulton

A man has been detained under the mental health act over the stabbing of a police officer.

William Ashton, 39, formerly of Briarwood Drive, Bispham, admitted stabbing the unnamed officer during an incident in Cleveleys.

Ashton was arrested following the incident, which happened in Westmorland Avenue on November 2 last year.

The immediate response officer, named today at Pete Lucas, suffered stab wounds to his body when he was attacked after stopping a van which was being driven by Ashton.

PC Lucas stopped the van believing it to be driven by Ashton who had been reported missing.

Ashton got out of his Peugeot van and approached PC Lucas. He punched him and then produced a knife and stabbed him to the torso.

PC Lucas fell to the ground and he was again stabbed to the torso, with one wound being inflicted where the knife went beneath the officer’s stab-vest. Mr Ashton then discarded the knife and kicked PC Lucas to the head and body several times before passing members of the public intervened. Mr Ashton then made off in his van.

The van was later seen travelling towards Poulton-le-Fylde where it was stopped by road police officers. Mr Ashton attacked the RPU vehicle with a pickaxe before Taser was deployed and he was arrested.

Ashton was originally charged with attempted murder.

He has remained in a secure mental health facility since he was arrested. Psychiatrists agreed that he is not insane, but has for several years suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

He appeared at Preston Crown Court on Monday and admitted causing wounding with intent. He had earlier pleaded guilty to affray and possession of a knife.

He was given a hospital order under section 37 and section 41 of the Mental Health Act.

A judge ordered he be detained indefinitely.

Detective Chief Inspector Becky Smith, of Blackpool Police, said: “Pete Lucas can have had no idea of the horrific events that were to unfold that day and the fact that he has returned to work and is now fully operational is a true credit to his own resilience and commitment to his job. I must commend his courage and professionalism throughout. This incident shows the risks that officers face on a daily basis.

“I would like to pay tribute to the members of the public who came to Pete’s aid and showed tremendous bravery in the face of danger.”