Psychology student knifed during safari park visit

High Court, Glasgow. File picture: John Devlin

High Court, Glasgow. File picture: John Devlin

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A UNIVERSITY student knifed a classmate in a brutal murder bid at a safari park, a court has heard.

Christopher Blaikie stabbed Claire Mazzucchi in the neck as she sat eating lunch in March this year.

A judge heard how the pair – both studying psychology at Stirling University – had once been flatmates until Miss Mazzucchi felt uneasy living with him.

The 22-year-old survived the unprovoked attack at Blair Drummond Safari Park near the city.

Blaikie, from West Lothian, was held for the stabbing and claimed he had struck due to “homicidal thoughts”.

The first offender now faces a lengthy jail term after he pled guilty to an attempted murder charge at the High Court in Glasgow.

Prosecutor Shirley McKenna told how students from the psychology course were giving a presentation to safari park staff as part of their final year dissertation.

Blaikie, 24, and Miss Mazzucchi were amongst the group.

They had previously been flatmates, but stopped when Miss Mazzucci “no longer felt comfortable sharing with him”.

However, Miss McKenna said there were “no issues” between them at the time of the attack on March 30 this year.

The staff and students were later having lunch that day in the safari park canteen.

But, the court heard Blaikie was very quiet and not eating. He then became “inceasingly agitated” and bizarrely started banging his cutlery.

He suddenly got up and marched across to Miss Mazzucchi’s table and stood behind her.

Miss McKenna told the court: “He was seen to put his right hand over her face and wrap his arms around her neck in a headlock position.

“He made two or three stabbing motions...whereby he stabbed her once of the left hand side of her neck with a knife.”

As other stunned students became aware of the horror, one jumped up and rugby tackled Blaikie.

The blade meantime remained in the neck of his hysterical victim, but she yanked the weapon out.

A 999 call was then made for a blood-soaked Miss Mazzucchi.

As she was rushed to hospital, Blaikie was arrested at the scene by police.

He confessed to the attack and claimed he had been in an “agitated and nervous mood” which can cause “homicidal thoughts to come out”.

Blaikie, of Livingston, West Lothian, also told how he had kept a four-inch knife in his rucksack.

Miss Mazzucchi required surgery for the wound to her neck. The injury was described as “potentially life threatening” and she will be scarred for life.

The court heard she is also a keen dancer and the attack impacted on that.

Miss McKenna added: “The incident has left her feeling vulnerable and wary when she goes out.”

Blaikie has since been diagnosed as suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome – a form of autism.

But, the court was told he did not suffer from a mental illness and was able to “appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct” at the time.

The advocate depute said: “He could distinguish between right and wrong on the day of the offence though his violent actions were totally out of character for him.”

Ronnie Renucci, defending, said the incident was “a somewhat sad and unfortunate case”.

He added: “It is fortunate the consequences were not much worse – a matter that Mr Blaikie is very grateful for.

“However, he recognises that is more luck than judgement. This is clearly a very serious matter.”

Judge Lord Turnbull deferred sentencing for reports until January 18 in Edinburgh.