A man who beheaded a grandmother with a machete in her own back garden has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity by a jury at the Old Bailey.
Nicholas Salvador, 25, was sentenced to a hospital order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act and a restriction order under Section 41 with an indefinite time limit, after appearing at court today, Tuesday, 23 June.
The court heard how Salvador, who has since been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, attacked Palmira Silva, 82 (04.03.32), with a 24-inch blade and wooden pole in the garden of her home in Nightingale Road, Edmonton.
The Metropolitan Police Service officer, who first arrived on the scene, said he knew local residents and police officers were in “mortal danger”, but the situation had to be handled to prevent further tragedy.
Enfield Inspector, Doug Skinner, said: “I knew that Salvador was armed, had already killed and that many people were in immediate danger. Nothing can fully prepare you for that type of call or the scene we encountered.
“I immediately requested an unmarked car to move in close and track his movements. We decided we would have to remove residents before Salvador killed someone else.
“The helicopter constantly tracked Salvador jumping fences and they’d also spotted children playing in nearby gardens. We genuinely thought he would kill those children and we were filled with utter terror.
“We pulled up outside of an address close to the victim’s and smashed through the double glazed windows calling out to residents.
“I then saw Salvador, stripped to the waist and standing in someone’s front room, armed with a blood-stained machete. I engaged him in conversation as he made stabbing motions towards me.
“I knew I had to buy enough time for the rest of the team to get residents, especially those kids, out of the area. Officers smashed through windows to pull them all to safety before Salvador could be contained in another house.
“All units acted with extreme courage. Armed officers, unarmed officers and rookies – all working together, putting their own lives at risk to save others.”
The Old Bailey heard how Salvador, usually of Gilda Avenue, Enfield, had been staying with a male friend and his sister at an address close to his victim.
The pair both noticed his unusual behaviour on the morning of Thursday, 4 September 2014 and saw him walk into their garden with a blade and a wooden broom handle. As they moved closer to ask what he was doing they realised he was standing over the body of a decapitated cat and had blood on his hands.
They barricaded themselves into their home as Salvador tried to get back into the house by smashing the windows.
Both fled the house to their car parked in Nightingale Road, with Salvador in close pursuit. Salvador managed to smash two of the vehicle’s windows, as the car’s engine twice stalled, before the pair could escape and alert police.
Within minutes Enfield borough officers arrived at the scene with the MPS Air Support Unit capturing the scene from above. Armed units were also immediately dispatched.
Salvador was spotted smashing through garden fences before approaching Palmira Silva who was cooking lunch with her back door open. After a brief exchange he was seen attacking the pensioner with the wooden pole before launching his fatal attack.
Whilst guided by the overhead MPS helicopter, police officers attempted to distract Salvador and launched a courageous bid to rescue terrified local residents. Several, including young children, had to be pulled through smashed windows to get them away from the scene.
After a lengthy struggle, officers eventually contained Salvador in an empty property before he was Tasered and bought out into the street on a stretcher.
Several officers suffered serious injuries during the incident. In particular, one MPS firearms officer received treatment for a large bite to his lower leg while another sustained a broken wrist.
Commander Simon Letchford, said: “This was a horrendous and vicious attack which robbed a family of a much-loved vibrant mother and grandmother.
“On behalf of the Met I would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family of Palmira Silva.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the officers who dealt with the incident and faced a truly shocking scene.
“I managed to personally speak to those who initially responded and faced a fast-moving and difficult situation. The officers did everything they could to keep people safe and clear the area. They undoubtedly put their own lives on the line to ensure there was no further loss of life that day.
“I have nothing but praise and admiration for them and we should all be grateful that we have officers who will risk their own lives to keep others safe.”
Salvador was further charged at the Old Bailey on 9 September 2014 with assault (ABH) on an police officer.