Friday, July 5, 2002
London A paranoid schizophrenic who stabbed George Harrison on what he said was a "mission from God" was conditionally released from a secure hospital Thursday. The former Beatle's family called the decision "insulting."
An independent panel including a judge, a psychiatrist and a member of the public said Michael Abram, 35, was fit to be released from the Scott Clinic, a psychiatric facility in Liverpool, northwestern England. It was unclear when he would leave the clinic.
Abram, who has a history of mental illness, told psychiatrists he stabbed Harrison on Dec. 30, 1999, because he believed he was possessed by the former Beatle and was on a "mission from God."
Abram was accused of breaking into Harrison's home in Henley-on-Thames, west of London, and stabbing him repeatedly, puncturing a lung. He also was charged with attacking Olivia Harrison, when she came to her husband's defense.
He was tried for attempted murder but acquitted in November 2000, on the grounds of insanity. A judge ordered him to be detained at a secure hospital "without time restriction."
"Michael Abram ... has been given a conditional discharge today by a Mental Health Review Tribunal," said a spokeswoman for Mersey Care NHS Trust, which runs the Scott Clinic, on customary condition of anonymity.
She said the conditions of Abram's discharge would remain confidential.
The family of Harrison ï¿½ who died of cancer on Nov. 29 at the age of 58 ï¿½ said the musician would have reacted to the news with "a mixture of anger and dismay."
"We certainly wish Mr. Abram no ill, but to be presented with this as a fact after the event is deeply upsetting and insulting, and we feel again completely let down by the system," said a statement from Olivia Harrison and the couple's son, Dhani.
"It remains the case in this country that the victim simply has no voice. The law must be changed."
In a separate interview, Abram said he no longer posed a danger to society, and he asked Harrison's family to forgive him.
"I honestly don't think I am a risk any more. I am glad the doctors have agreed that it's safe to let me out," he said. "If I could turn back the clock, I would give anything not to have done what I did. But I have come to realize that I was very ill at that time, really not in control."
After Abram's trial, the Harrison family protested the acquittal and said it found the prospect of Abram's release "abhorrent."