Ex-GCHQ worker admits attempting to murder US spy in leisure centre knife attack
A former GCHQ worker has admitted attempting to murder a US spy after launching a knife attack on her outside a leisure centre.
Joshua Bowles pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey on Wednesday to punching and stabbing the woman some three miles from the UK intelligence agency’s Cheltenham base on March 9.
The 29-year-old was charged with attempted murder, as well as assaulting a man, causing him actual bodily harm, following an investigation by counter-terror police.
Bowles, of Welwyn Mews, Cheltenham, targeted his victim, who is referred to in charges only by the code number 99230, because he believed she worked at GCHQ and represented the state.
The court heard that Bowles had also been an employee at GCHQ and he had researched the victim and other US nationals who worked at the site, but was no longer working there at the time of the attack.
He was armed with two knives when he launched the attack at about 9.15pm as the woman left the leisure centre, in Tommy Taylors Lane, with a friend.
The victim had been taking part in a netball game at the leisure centre and Bowles attempted to stab her in the car park.
The victim and her friend managed to escape the attack and ran back into the leisure centre.
Bowles followed them and he attacked the victim again inside with one of the knives, before she fled onto a netball court.
The victim was taken to hospital after suffering multiple stab injuries in the attack.
Bowles also punched a man named Alex Fuentes after being confronted in the car park.
The court heard that the woman who was stabbed by the defendant was employed by the United States Government and was stationed at GCHQ at the time of the incident.
During Bowles’s first appearance at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, prosecutor Kathryn Selby said the case, which she said involved a “planned attack”, should be dealt with under the terrorism protocol.
She told the court: “The defendant has selected the victim because he believed she is a worker for GCHQ and holds views on the work he believes they conduct.
“He attacked the victim because, in his mind, she represents the state.”
Following the hearing on Wednesday, Nick Price, head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “This extremely violent attack against two innocent people was completely unprovoked.
“It is right that those who commit violent crimes like this should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law to protect the public, and our thoughts continue to be with the victims and their families.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Olly Wright, head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE), said: “This was a violent and unprovoked attack on two innocent victims.
“Through our extensive and thorough investigation, it is clear that Bowles had selected his victim because of where she worked.”
He added: “I am pleased that Bowles has taken the decision to plead guilty to these crimes due to the strength of our investigation and evidence against him. This will thankfully spare the victims from having to go through the traumatic process of re-living the events of that day through the trial process.”
Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb told Bowles she hoped he will be sentenced before the end of October.
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