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Insanity Verdict In Ex-Beatle Attack

The man accused of trying to kill George Harrison was found innocent by reason of insanity Wednesday after psychiatrists testified he believed he was possessed by the former Beatle.

Michael Abram, 34, had been charged with two counts of attempted murder in connection with a Dec. 30 attack at Harrison's home in Henley-on-Thames, west of London.

Abram was accused of breaking into Harrison's home and stabbing him repeatedly, puncturing a lung. He also was accused of attacking Harrison's wife, Olivia, when she came to her husband's defense.

During the second day of Abram's trial in Oxford Crown Court, Judge Michael Astill instructed jurors to find the defendant innocent by reason of insanity.

CBS News Correspondent Sam Litzinger reports Abram will be confined indefinitely to a psychiatric hospital.

Earlier Wednesday, three psychiatrists had testified that Abram has suffered from severe paranoid schizophrenia since 1990.

Abram thought all four members of the Beatles were witches and practitioners of black magic, Dr. Nigel Eastman told jurors.

"He is not somebody who wanted to kill, but he was driven to it," Eastman said.


AP Photo
Police outside the
Harrison home, just after
the 1999 attack.

Jurors also heard that Abram believed he was Archangel Michael and had been sent by God on a mission to kill Harrison, whom Abram described as the "phantom menace," a figure from the writings of Nostradamus.

Initially, Abram believed Paul McCartney was the phantom menace but, after listening to some McCartney songs, decided it was Harrison, said Dr. Philip Joseph, another psychiatrist.

Abram "believed Paul McCartney was in his head, tormenting him. He realized that it was George Harrison behind this, telling Paul McCartney what to do," Joseph said.

"He said that he remembered that John Lennon said the Beatles were more famous than Jesus," the psychiatrist added. "That upset him. He thought the Beatles had gone too far."

Prosecutors said Abram went on a reconnaissance mission to Harrison's village and later returned with a knife and broke into the house.

Joseph testified that Abram had told him he would have stopped the attack "if George Harrison had talked normally to him," but that the defendant said the former Beatle had cursed him in a devil's tongue and spoken backwards to him.

Harrison, 57, did not attend the trial but described the frenzied attack in a written statement read to jurors Tuesday. He said he tried to disorient Abram by chanting "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna!"

Harrison said he made a split-second decision to tackle the man, but the intruder still got the upper hand, and began stabbing him.

"He again got the better ome. At that point, I felt exposed and could feel the strength drain from me," Harrison said. "I vividly remember a deliberate thrust of the knife toward my chest. I felt my chest deflate and the flow of blood toward my mouth. I believed I had been fatally stabbed."

Abram, wearing glasses and a pinstriped suit, had watched intently as the psychiatrists gave evidence. All three doctors said he had responded well to anti-psychotic drugs, but would be a risk to society if released immediately from a psychiatric hospital.

Olivia Harrison and the couple's adult son, Dhani, were in court Wednesday.

Abram's mother, Lynda, says her son's mental illness was evident at home, as he has told of hearing voices.

Mrs. Abram also says she's sorry the attack happened and hopes the Harrisons can forgive him.

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