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Man who stabbed woman believing she was ‘US spy working at GCHQ’ pleads guilty

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A man who stabbed a woman because he thought she was a spy who worked for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

Joshua Bowles, 29, was accused of trying to murder the leisure centre worker roughly three miles from GCHQ's base in Cheltenham on Thursday, March 9.

Bowles, also from Cheltenham, was charged following an investigation by counter-terror detectives and was said to have researched the victim prior to the attack, targeting her as he believed she worked for the UK's intelligence, security and cyber agency.

The woman was attacked while leaving the leisure centre with a friend at around 9.15pm.

Bowles allegedly had two knives. He is said to have punched and stabbed her in the car park before continuing the attack inside the building as she tried to escape.

In March, prosecutor Kathryn Selby said the alleged incident was a "planned attack" and called for it to be treated as a terrorism incident.

She said: “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.”

The victim suffered multiple stab injuries but was taken to hospital where she was in a stable condition soon after.

Bowles also admitted one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm after he punched a member of the public, Alex Fuentes, who confronted him in the car park.

At a hearing in March, in the dock Mr Bowles spoke to confirm his name, date of birth and address, but was not asked to enter pleas to the charges.

Following the hearing 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."

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb told Bowles she hoped he will be sentenced before the end of October.

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