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Runner jailed for stabbing UK Athletics staff

A fell-running champion has been jailed for 18 years for stabbing three UK Athletics staff (UKA) at a major arena.

Lauren Jeska admitted trying to murder UKA official Ralph Knibbs, who she attacked at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium last March.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that Jeska stabbed Mr Knibbs in the head and neck, leaving a 2cm hole with “blood pumping out”.

It was like Jeska, 42, was “trying to skewer meat”, the court was told.

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Julie Warburton, mitigating for Jeska, said her transgender status had led to a disagreement with Birmingham-based UKA, where Mr Knibbs was head of human resources and welfare.

Jeska also pleaded guilty, in September, to causing actual bodily harm to Kevan Taylor and Tim Begley, who tried to intervene, and two counts of illegal possession of a knife.

Running as a woman, Jeska, of Wesley Terrace in Machynlleth, Powys, was England’s champion fell-runner three times between 2010 and 2012, and has been a member of Todmorden Harriers, Aberystwyth Athletics Club and another club based in Snowdonia.

Problems arose when she was considered for international selection in 2015, Ms Warburton said on behalf of Jeska..

Although she was not chosen, “she had a mental breakdown” by the end of the season, Ms Warburton said, sparked by a dispute over her hormones.

Jeska was told her previous running results could be expunged and she feared further blood tests would reveal her transgender status publicly.

Judge Simon Drew QC said before passing sentence he had considered various psychiatric reports and the nature of the attack.

But he said it had been planned and executed with “chilling precision”, meaning Jeska posed a “serious risk in the future”.

The court heard how Mr Knibbs, a former centre at Bristol RFC, suffered a stroke at the scene, blinding him in his left eye temporarily. He now has limited vision in both eyes, rendering him disabled.

His movement is restricted and he has difficulty eating due to severed nerves, while he said he was in a “constant battle with his emotions”.

Accountant Tim Begley was stabbed in the ribs but the blade did not penetrate deeply, while finance director Kevan Taylor was cut on his left hand and fingers as he restrained Jeska.

Mr Begley did not want the CCTV footage of the attack to be released, while Mr Taylor has had counselling.

Jeska must also serve five years on extended licence and will not be eligible for parole for 12 years.

Speaking after the case, her parents Pauline and Graham Jameson said they were praying for the full physical and emotional recovery of Mr Knibbs.

During Jeska’s “mental health crisis” they said she “felt traumatised and had flashbacks which caused fantasies of doing something drastic” and had “twice asked for help from the NHS but was not referred for psychiatric help”.

“Whatever the technical psychiatric diagnosis, it is clear to us as parents that the assault is only understandable as the consequence of a mental health crisis precipitated by the affair with UKA,” her parents said.

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BBC Sport – Athletics

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