Solicitor tried to stab police officer in Crawley knife attack

A solicitor screamed ‘Die! Die! Die!’ as he tried to stab a police officer with a ten-inch knife at a block of Crawley flats.

But Jack Chao, 37, was found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity when he appeared at Lewes Crown Court.

Earlier, the court heard Chao ignored 19 orders to put down the pink kitchen knife before trying to drive it into the chest of PC Daniel Rollings.

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Chao was said to be in the grip of a psychotic episode which made him think the world had ended.

PC Rollings said he was in a fight for his life after one barb of his taser missed and the incapacitating electric charge was not delivered.

As the two men wrestled for control of the knife, PC Rollings said: “When I looked down, he was trying to drive the knife into me.”

He was only saved by his police stab vest, the court heard.

Lewes Crown Court in Hove heard Mr Chao, a solicitor with HM Land Registry in Croydon, believed the police were disciples of the devil who had come to take him to Hell.

He had been working from home and the court heard his mental health collapsed into a psychotic episode magnified by a sense of isolation after months in lockdown.

He believed the apocalypse had come and police were coming to take him to hell.

Earlier, the court heard how police were called to flats in Crawley on Friday December 17 last year at about 9.30am after a member of the public saw a man with a knife looking confused and lingering in the stairway.

Jonathan Edwards for the Crown said: “When it became clear to PC Rollings he was going to attack him with the knife, he discharged his taser.

“One of the barbs missed and the charge was ineffective.

“Mr Chao was able to close the distance and attempted to stab PC Rollings in the chest two or three times.

“He may only have been saved by his police issue stab vest,” Mr Edwards said.

PC Rollings said he was terrified.”

After the police had him under control, Mr Chao said sorry several times, Mr Edwards said.

“Then quoted from the bible, the lord is my shepherd.”

His Honour Judge Jeremy Gold QC described the case as one of the most unusual in his 40 year legal career.

Chao, who was returned to a secure unit where he has been treated since the attack, will be sentenced at a later date.

The court heard his treatment is likely to continue.

Judge Gold said: “He did his utmost to get treatment.

“He had an understanding he was becoming unwell and it is absolutely tragic he was not able to receive the help he needed.”