Man admits manslaughter over chip incident on bus

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LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) A man admitted today to stabbing to death a bus passenger who had asked him to stop throwing chips at his girlfriend.

Anthony Joseph, 23, stabbed events manager Richard Whelan seven times while travelling on the number 43 bus in Islington, north London, the Old Bailey heard.

That morning Joseph, from Islington, had wrongly been released from prison despite an outstanding arrest warrant on a separate offence, the BBC reported.

The government said an enquiry involving the police and prisons had been launched.

The Criminal Justice Department said in a statement: ''This case shows a number of failings for the criminal justice system as a whole which is of great concern to the government and which we are investigating.'' Defence lawyer Philip Katz said Joseph, who denied murder, was suffering from the onset of schizophrenia at the time of the killing.

Joseph pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after two Old Bailey juries were unable to agree a verdict on murder.

Justice Gross discharged the second jury yesterday after the Crown decided not to go ahead with a third murder trial.

Afterwards, Whelan's sister Teresa said: ''Having heard the whole of the evidence for a second time we feel that the defence of diminished responsibility in this case has been used as a defence for the un-defendable, with so much evidence showing that Joseph was an angry and vindictive man.'' She said her brother, whom she described as a private, quiet man with high values, had ''made the mistake of judging another by his own standards''.

Whelan, 28, from Kentish Town, and his girlfriend, Kerry Barker, 38, were sitting on the top deck of the bus in July 2005 when Joseph began throwing chips and laughing at another female passenger.

That passenger moved downstairs and Joseph began lobbing chips at Barker.

Whelan approached the defendant to remonstrate, unaware that Joseph was armed with a knife and had been taking drink and drugs, the court heard.

The prosecution said: ''He was not prepared to sit tight and do nothing. An altercation broke out, but it was not between equals.'' Whelan was stabbed seven times, staggered along the bus and collapsed and died in hospital two hours later.

Reuters RSA RN2309

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