Van driver detained in hospital for deadly rampage
A van driver who deliberately ran down and killed a mother of three during a hit-and-run rampage has been detained indefinitely in a secure mental hospital.
Driving his three-tonne van, Matthew Tvrdon, 32, ploughed into Karina Menzies, 31, in a paranoia-fuelled frenzy that also injured 17 others in Cardiff last year.
A high court judge at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday ordered his detention after previously hearing that he believed those he targeted had conspired to undermine his mental health.
Former tax worker Tvrdon thought the five separate family groups of innocent strangers had been “gas-lighting” him – which he defined as a form of psychological bullying that involved them trying to make him think he was going insane.
Spurred by his delusions, he drove the Iveco van on a 30-minute spree around the Ely and Leckwith districts of Cardiff, intending to kill at least one adult in every group he drove into on October 19, the court heard.
Weeks afterwards, he still believed he had been manipulated to act as he did.
Tvrdon appeared at yesterday’s hearing by videolink from Ashworth high security psychiatric hospital in Maghull, Merseyside, where he will now be detained after the acceptance of a guilty plea to manslaughter through diminished responsibility for the death of Ms Menzies.
Summing up the case, judge Mr Justice Wyn Williams said: “Eighteen people were directly affected by your actions – but they have had a much wider impact upon many more.
“You caused incalculable harm to many people.
“But I am satisfied that without your serious mental illness you would not have behaved in the way you did.
“I will make a hospital order that you are detained without restriction of time. You will be released from that institution if a mental health tribunal sees fit that you should be released. However, you should expect that you will be detained for a very long time.”
Several of the victims and their families reacted angrily in court as the sentence was passed.
“Is that all he’s having?” one man shouted as he left the court in anger.
“They should have put a gun to his head,” a second man said, as he also left.
Ms Menzies was the third to be mown down as she walked home with two of her three children at about 3.30pm. She managed to throw her daughters to safety before she was killed herself in front of horrified witnesses outside Ely Fire Station.
Tvrdon’s eight-mile rampage was finally brought to an end after a high-speed police chase, when officers sprayed him with CS gas and placed him in handcuffs and leg restraints.
Along with manslaughter, he also admitted seven counts of attempted murder, two counts of causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent, and two of attempting to cause GBH.
He admitted five counts of actual bodily harm, one of common assault and one of causing death by dangerous driving.
The judge banned Tvrdon from driving for 25 years as he passed sentence and said his Iveco van and Renault Clio would both be forfeited.
He added: “Your trail of destruction was brought to an end only as a consequence of determined action on the part of the police.
“The police chase and the measures taken to force you to stop your van were captured on camera and shown in court.
“I shall not attempt to describe what happened in words. I should record, however, that during the course of your arrest you became violent and struck Pc Brien with the Crook Lock, causing him some injury.
“You were overpowered only after you had been sprayed with CS gas.”
The court was previously told Tvrdon was diagnosed as suffering from paranoia as long ago as 2003.
The judge said that he did not regard him as to blame for the intent he had formed to kill people.
He added: “That intent was formed while you were in the grip of the illness which I have described.
“There is nothing before me to suggest that you were capable of forming that intent in the absence of such an illness.”