A knifeman has been given a suspended sentence after brandishing two huge kitchen knives at Gatwick Airport.
Adam Russell, 32, told a neighbour he had planned a ‘massacre’ at the airport and wanted ‘to kill them all’.
Russell, who suffers from schizophrenia, was in the midst of a relapse in his mental illness when he took a bus to Gatwick in the early hours of June 3, 2019.
He was armed with two 10-inch blades, a court heard, and nearly 200 people were evacuated from in the South Terminal as Russell headed towards the international departure lounge.
Armed police arrived two minutes after security staff pressed the panic button and officers tasered Russell before arresting him.
Adam Russell (pictured with two large kitchen knives), 32, told a neighbour he had planned a ‘massacre’ at Gatwick Airport and wanted ‘to kill them all’
Russell, from Crawley in West Sussex, pleaded guilty to possessing a bladed article and affray. He appeared at Lewes Crown Court for sentencing on Tuesday afternoon.
Prosecutor Rachel Beckett said Russell was seen by one of his neighbours about 1.30am while they both waited for a bus.
She told the court: ‘The defendant said he was going for a massacre at Gatwick.
‘He later said he was going to kill them all.’
Russell arrived at the airport and was seen walking into the arrivals hall, carrying a knife in each hand.
One witness said the defendant was ‘walking with purpose in his stride’ and had ‘an emotionless glazed over look in his face’.
Russell (pictured), who suffers from schizophrenia, was in the midst of a relapse in his mental illness when he took a bus to Gatwick in the early hours of June 3, 2019
Another said Russell looked ‘like he was on a mission’.
As onlookers realised the danger they started shouting and running, with security staff ushering people away.
Russell was heard shouting ‘come on then’ as he continued to hold the knives.
The prosecutor added: ‘(A) security officer said she was so scared when she saw the defendant she was scared he was about to start stabbing everyone.
‘She thought “this is it, this is a terrorist attack”.’
Staff pressed the panic button at 1.54am and armed police arrived in the area at 1.55am.
Officers armed with a carbine and handguns found the defendant and shouted at him to show them his hands.
Armed officers tasered Russell before arresting him after he walked through Gatwick Airport’s security area with two large knives
They formed the view that he was ‘aggressive and an immediate danger’ and tasered him in the chest.
After he was apprehended, he told officers that he suffered from schizophrenia.
The court heard that a week before the Gatwick incident he had told ambulance staff that voices in his head were telling him to blow up the airport.
Defence barrister Fiona Clegg said: ‘What is very clear is that in the proceeding weeks to the incident that his mental health was deteriorating significantly.
‘Mr Russell now wishes me to indicate that he is now able to see – whilst he was not at the time – just how alarming this must have been.
‘It was not his intention to harm anyone there.’
She said that Mr Russell is ‘profusely sorry’ and has been engaging with mental health services.
Callum Oldfield, 21, said he briefly spoke to the man at a bus stop in Ifield, West Sussex, and asked what he had in his bag
Sentencing him, Judge Jeremy Gold QC said it was a ‘very serious’ incident and that in other circumstances he would be sending him to prison for an extended time.
He told Russell: ‘You were not thinking logically or reasonably at the time.
‘You had told a neighbour that you were going for a massacre at Gatwick Airport and you were apprehended by the police at the airport after they tasered you.
‘Those officers would have had other possibilities open to them including the use of firearms.
‘In many respects you are fortunate to be standing in front of me today.
‘They could have dealt with the situation very differently.’
He said he was ‘unimpressed’ that Russell had been self-medicating with illicit drugs at the time of the incident.
During the attempted attack last year a 39-year-old woman was picking up her family’s bags with her husband and two children after returning from a week in Tenerife when they heard the call to evacuate and ran towards departures.
She told MailOnline: ‘We heard from baggage handlers that someone was “airside” and then staff confirmed that once he’d got through staff security he was heading towards a door which led straight to baggage reclaim.’
The woman, who asked not to be named, said staff told passengers that their lives had been in ‘immediate danger’ from the knifeman.
‘It was terrifying, especially as our two kids were there and there were lots of other children around,’ she said.
‘When we were moved to the departures are for further information staff confirmed our lives had been in immediate danger. So many what-ifs have been going through my head.
‘After we saw the police coming through with a Co-Op carrier bag with a flat white box in it, which must have contained the knives.’
Traveller Hayley Wilkins was waiting for her baggage after landing just before 2am when there was an announcement urging people to evacuate.
Ms Wilkins, who wrote about the incident on Facebook, said she overheard the staff saying the man was an ex-employee and that lives were in danger.
The suspect, who was struck by the 50,000-volt Taser before being handcuffed and taken away by police, was earlier spotted making his way to the airport by a neighbour.
Callum Oldfield, 21, said he briefly spoke to the man at a bus stop in Ifield, West Sussex, and asked what he had in his bag.
He told the Independent: ‘I said “what are you up to?” and he said: “I’m going to Gatwick for a massacre, I’m going to kill them all”.’
Mr Oldfield, who like the arrested man is from Crawley, called the police after the ‘uncomfortable’ encounter after suspecting a flat box the man had inside a carrier bag contained knives.
He added: ‘I took a couple of steps back. He was grinning like he’d won a load of money. He looked really, really happy. It was like he wasn’t all there.’
Another traveller, Atipin Kyerewaa, posted: ‘At Gatwick airport, there was a security risk but police have just removed the guy, we’ve been told our lives were at risk.’
A 29-year-old holidaymaker who gave his name only as Adam said: ‘Our baggage hadn’t come through yet and we got an emergency tannoy saying there was a nasty incident and we must evacuate as soon as possible.
‘The first thing I noticed was the baggage handlers leg it. There was a mad rush.’
Passengers were allowed to return at 2.45am. ‘We are a bit shaken up. It was very much a close call,’ Adam said.
Judge Gold handed Russell a 15-month suspended sentence along with requirements for treatment and rehabilitation.