By MARA D. BELLABY
OXFORD, England – A man who broke into George Harrison’s home and repeatedly stabbed the former Beatle was found innocent by reason of insanity today after psychiatrists testified he believed he was possessed by Harrison.
Judge Michael Astill ruled that Michael Abram should be confined to a mental hospital indefinitely.
Abram, 34, had been charged with two counts of attempted murder in connection with a Dec. 30, 1999, attack at Harrison’s home in Henley-on-Thames, west of London.
Harrison’s lung was punctured in the attack. Abram also was charged with attacking Harrison’s wife, Olivia, when she came to her husband’s defense.
During the second day of the trial in Oxford Crown Court, Astill instructed jurors to find the defendant innocent by reason of insanity. Under English law, they were bound by his order.
Shortly after, Astill denied the Harrisons’ request to be informed if Abram is ever under consideration for release, saying that would be a matter only for medical experts.
Earlier today, three psychiatrists had testified that Abram has suffered from severe paranoid schizophrenia since 1990.
Abram thought all four members of The Beatles were practitioners of black magic, Dr. Nigel Eastman told jurors.
“He is not somebody who wanted to kill, but he was driven to it,” Eastman said.
Jurors also heard that Abram believed he was Archangel Michael and had been sent by God on a mission to kill Harrison, whom Abram described as the “phantom menace,” a figure from the writings of Nostradamus.
Initially, Abram believed Paul McCartney was the phantom menace but, after listening to some McCartney songs, decided it was Harrison, said Dr. Philip Joseph, another psychiatrist.
Abram “believed Paul McCartney was in his head, tormenting him. He realized that it was George Harrison behind this, telling Paul McCartney what to do,” Joseph said.
“He said that he remembered that John Lennon said The Beatles were more famous than Jesus,” the psychiatrist added. “That upset him. He thought The Beatles had gone too far.”
Prosecutors said Abram went on a reconnaissance mission to Harrison’s village and later returned with a knife and broke into the house.
Harrison, 57, had described the frenzied attack in a written statement read to jurors Tuesday. He said he tried to disorient Abram by chanting “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna!”
Joseph testified that Abram had told him he would have stopped the attack “if George Harrison had talked normally to him,” but that the defendant said the former Beatle had cursed him in a devil’s tongue and spoken backward to him.
Abram, wearing glasses and a pinstriped suit, had watched intently as the psychiatrists gave evidence. All three doctors said he had responded well to anti-psychotic drugs, but would be a risk to society if released immediately from a psychiatric hospital.
Olivia Harrison and the couple’s adult son, Dhani, were in court today.
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