A WOMAN stabbed a stranger in the back with a kitchen knife after voices in her head told her to do it, a court was told.

Julie Thomas, aged 52, had stopped taking prescribed medication for paranoid schizophrenia when she stabbed Mark Aspinall in January last year.

Moments before the attack, she had attempted to stab another man, Chris Barlow, who managed to escape into a nearby gym.

Prosecuting at Bolton Crown Court, Geoff Whelan said that on January 10 last year, Mr Aspinall was walking along Kent Road in Bolton when he passed Thomas.

Mr Aspinall said that she had a concerned look on her face.

Mr Whelan said: “He asked her if she was all right, to which she responded yes. He turned around and took two steps forward when he felt an impact in his lower back which he said felt like he had been thumped hard.”

The court heard that he then saw that Thomas was holding a four-inch kitchen knife.

It was then he realised he had been stabbed.

He was taken to hospital where it was revealed he had suffered a three-inch wound to his lower back. He was not seriously injured as the knife had narrowly missed his spinal cord.

When police went to Thomas’ home in Swinsdale Road in Bolton later that day, they found her with blood on her hands and face.

She was initially deemed unfit for interview.

She was then admitted to a psychiatric ward at the Royal Bolton Hospital, where she remained until early April.

Mr Whelan told the court that when she was eventually interviewed, Thomas, who pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent, common assault and possession of a knife. who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia 12 years ago, admitted responsibility for the attack.

He said: “She had been on medication. Then she had stopped taking them a week before the attack. She then heard a voice in her head telling her to stab someone.”

The prosecutor then read a statement from Mr Aspinall who revealed his “great shock” at what had happened, adding that he now feels “unsafe when walking in the street”.

Judge Peter Davies heard from forensic psychiatrist Dr Ronan Brennan.

He had expressed concerns about Thomas’s potential vulnerability in prison.

Sentencing her to two years and eight months in prison, Judge Davies said: “This is a very serious offence.

“And I have to look at the protection of the public from you. As much as a community order would assist you it would, howebver, not protect the public.”