A man launched a vicious knife attack on an 86-year-old pensioner walking home from the supermarket after telling him: “I am very sorry about this.”
Ian Macdonald targeted a complete stranger for the unprovoked assault before telling a witness who went to the victim’s aid: “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Macdonald appeared very calm after repeatedly wounding Eric Martin who suffered a severed jugular vein in his neck, the High Court in Edinburgh heard.
A judge was told that Macdonald did not suffer from any mental disorder and offered no explanation for the attack.
Macdonald, 55, admitted attempting to murder Mr Martin on December 1 last year at Gylemuir Road, Corstorphine, in Edinburgh, by repeatedly striking him on the body with a knife to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life, when he appeared in court today.
Advocate depute Lisa Gillespie said that at the time of the assault Mr Martin, a retired engraver, was in good health and was fit and active.
He was used to walking twice a week to a supermarket in Corstorphine to buy groceries before returning home.
On the day of the murder bid he was walking home from the store when he became aware of Macdonald walking towards him.
The prosecutor said: “He did not know the accused. The accused said ‘I am very sorry about this’ or words to that effect, before stabbing the victim repeatedly to the neck and body.”
Mr Martin tried unsuccessfully to push him off, but fell to the ground where Macdonald continued to knife him.
A witness got out of his van and approached to find that Mr Martin was now lying motionless on the road, bleeding from a neck wound.
Macdonald stopped the attack and told him: “I’ve stabbed him.” He then added: “I’ll need to phone the police. I shouldn’t have done that.”
The witness told Macdonald he would call the police and told him to stay where he was, which he did.
The man and another passerby tried to help the attack victim. Ms Gillespie said: “Both observed that the accused appeared very calm at this time.”
A female resident looked out her window and saw Mr Martin lying on the ground and Macdonald walking up and down with his hands behind his back. He appeared “blank and emotionless”.
She asked Macdonald what had happened to the victim and he told her also that he had stabbed him.
Police and an ambulance arrived and the attack victim was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Macdonald was detained and was seen by a doctor at a police station to assess his fitness for interview.
“The accused gave an account of waking that morning as usual, taking a knife from the kitchen drawer and leaving the house with the intention of visiting a local park. On leaving his house he had seen the victim, whom he did not know, and had stabbed him. He offered no explanation for his conduct,” said the advocate depute.
The doctor was concerned by his behaviour, passive appearance and calm description of events and called in a consultant psychiatrist.
Unemployed Macdonald, who lived alone in Gylemuir Road, proceeded to give a similar account to the psychiatrist who found no signs of mental illness.
Mr Martin was treated at hospital for wounds to his neck and chest. The severed ends of the jugular vein were tied to stop bleeding. He was let out of hospital nine days later.
The prosecutor said the wound to the jugular vein was “life threatening”. The knife that caused the injury had also been very close to the carotid artery.
She said that Mr Martin had said he did not wish to complete a victim impact statement in the case as he found it too upsetting to think about the incident.
Defence solicitor advocate Brian Gilfedder said: “It is a very unusual and perplexing case.”
A judge deferred sentence on Macdonald, who has never been jailed before, for the preparation of a background report.
Lady Wise told him: “You have pled guilty to an extremely serious attack on an 86-year-old man -a stranger to you - in the street.”
She remanded Macdonald in custody until his appearance next month for sentencing.