A former British fell running champion has pleaded guilty in court to attempted murder and assault after stabbing three members of UK Athletics staff in an “unprovoked” attack.
Forty-two-year-old Lauren Jeska admitted the offences via video-link at Birmingham Crown Court after the incident at Alexander Stadium in the city, where UK Athletics is based.
She admitted the attempted murder of former Bristol rugby player Ralph Knibbs, the head of human resources and welfare at the governing body.
Jeska stabbed the 51-year-old several times in the head and neck, resulting in life-threatening injuries from which he continues to make a “steady” recovery.
Mr Knibbs was in court today to hear Jeska enter her pleas from prison.
The 42-year-old also admitted assaulting Kevan Taylor and Tim Begley, who tried to intervene, and two counts of possessing a knife.
Both Mr Taylor and Mr Begley suffered minor injuries following the incident on March 22 of this year.
Jeska was restrained by staff at the scene until police arrived and was then arrested.
She was remanded in custody today for psychiatric reports ahead of sentencing on November 15.
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said Jeska had a “disagreement” with athletics staff which had “escalated.”
According to the Daily Telegraph, Jeska, who is transgender, may have been worried about losing her running titles due to a review of her status as a female athlete.
Defending, solicitor Julie Warburton said a diagnosis of autism may be made.
“We are pleased that today’s admission brings to a close a difficult period for our colleagues following the unprovoked attack on Mr Knibbs and staff at our Alexander Stadium head office in Birmingham earlier this year,” a UK Athletics statement said.
“UK Athletics would like to place on the record a number of thanks following events on March 22. A thank you to staff who reacted quickly in restraining the individual concerned, putting themselves at risk. A thank you to staff who worked calmly and yet with urgency to apply what was life-saving first aid to Mr Knibbs.
“Finally a thank you to all staff and colleagues not only of UK Athletics but also England Athletics and Birmingham City Council who not only assisted with first aid to Mr Knibbs and the police investigation with witness statements and detailed accounts, but most crucially have supported each other in the aftermath of the incident.
“In closing, we would ask that all media respect our staff and colleagues wishes and respect their privacy. No further statements will be issued by UK Athletics or those involved with the incident.”
Knibbs was formerly one of England’s top rugby players.
He played 436 times for Bristol, scoring 123 tries between 1982 and 1996.
On the international stage he represented England at under-23 and sevens level but turned down the chance to go on tour with England to South Africa in 1984 because he opposed apartheid.
He also ruled himself out of the 1988 England tour of Australia and Fiji due to work commitments, making him one of the only players to ever turn down England twice.
He joined UK Athletics in July 2011.
“An athlete has admitted attempted murder and assault after an unprovoked attack on staff at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham earlier this year,” a statement from West Midlands Police said.
By Dan Palmer
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz