Heroic doctors’ receptionist praised for saving patients from rampaging knifeman
PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:16 29 July 2019
A receptionist who shielded patients when a knifeman stormed the waiting room at a doctors’ surgery in Bow has been praised for her “remarkable” courage.
Sophia Foucher directed patients away from danger as paranoid schizophrenic Jeffrey Leung rampaged through the centre in Bow armed with a 12inch hunting knife. Four people were injured in the rampage.
With only an office chair to defend herself, Ms Foucher, 51, kept watch over Leung while she waited five minutes for police to arrive.
Leung, 40, dressed in a black camouflaged hooded jacket, armed himself with a crowbar and four hunting knives bought on eBay, before carrying out the attacks on December 19 last year.
At the knifeman's sentencing at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Thursday, July 25, Judge Caroline English praised Ms Foucher and awarded her £500 for her bravery.
Ms Foucher said: "I don't see it as being brave. When he came in it was just a case of me getting everyone to safety.
"I directed patients to side rooms, locked the doors and called police. I went back into the surgery to stay with [Leung] because I knew someone needed to keep a eye on him. It was important that he didn't have a chance to hurt anyone else."
Leung stormed the Tredegar Practice in St Stephen's Road at 11am and slashed the neck of one man, before stabbing another in the chest and stomach. He then made the three minute walk to the St Stephen's Health Centre, William Place, where he stabbed a 77-year-old woman in the neck and chest and knifed another, aged 54, in the hand and chest as Ms Foucher guided terrified staff and other patients in the waiting room to safety.
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Ms Foucher added: "My family said they can't believe I did what I did. I can't believe it to be honest.
"But when I was waiting for police I just saw all the momentum rush out of him. In the end I felt sorry for him. He obviously needed help and it's sad it took all those people being traumatised by his actions for him to get it."
Judge English added: "The sheer terror and panic [Leung] caused is obvious. But I would like to praise reception manager Sophia who showed extreme courage. Her presence of mind and stoicism in the face of what was going on was quite remarkable."
The court heard Leung had a "deep-seated resentment" of NHS staff. He was handed an indefinite hospital order after the court heard he had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
Leung was born in Hong Kong and came to Britain in 2002 to study. He had excelled at mathematics but dropped out of university in his second year as his mental health deteriorated, the court heard.
In the months before the attack he had little contact with the outside world and played video games incessantly in his room.
After his arrest he told psychiatrists that he believed he was going to die and doctors were not taking his health concerns seriously.
Judge English said: "You had a deep-seated sense of resentment to the health services, which was clearly the result of a deterioration in your mental health. [But] it is chilling that you planned these offences."
Leung, of Guerin Square, Malmesbury Road, Bow, admitted four counts of grievous bodily harm with intent, one count of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent and one count of threatening behaviour with a bladed article at an earlier hearing.
He was handed an indefinite hospital order and been placed in the John Howard Centre for treatment. He will have to apply directly to the Home Secretary for release if doctors ever deem him well enough.