Sheffield man accused of axe attack on PC Lisa Bates may not stand trial

Nathan Sumner, 35, arrives at Sheffield Magistrates Court on April 15 2016. Pic: Tom Maddick/Ross Parry
Nathan Sumner, 35, arrives at Sheffield Magistrates Court on April 15 2016. Pic: Tom Maddick/Ross Parry

A man accused of attempting to murder a Sheffield police officer with an axe may not be fit to stand trial, a court heard.

Further mental health tests are to take place on Nathan Sumner to determine whether he is fit to enter a plea to the charges over the attempted murder of PC Lisa Bates on Plowright Close in Gleadless Valley.

PC Lisa Bates

PC Lisa Bates

Sumner, aged 35, of Plowright Close, Gleadless Valley, is alleged to have carried out the attck on PC Bates on Wednesday, April 13 and is due to stand trial on October 12.

He appeared via video link from HMP Wakefield at Sheffield Crown Court.

Sumner had been told he will face two counts – attempted murder and an alternative of Section 18 assault.

But David Brooke, representing Sumner, said since his last appearance, an interim psychiatric report has been carried out and ‘raised a number of issues including fitness to plea and capacity for intent’.

While the report is being finalised, Judge Julian Goose QC said the defence should arrange funding for a second expert to carry out a similar assessment.

Mr Brooke said he had a second psychiatrist in mind who would be asked to focus on the issue of Sumner’s fitness to plead.

Judge Goose asked for those dealing with the medical assessments to act as quickly as they can so ‘meaningful conversations’ about the progress of the case can take place at the next hearing in September.

He said the view of the prosecution’s psychiatrist appeared to be that Sumner would be fit to plead.

Mr Brooke said Sumner’s legal team had had ‘some difficulty’ in taking instructions from him so far.

“Superficially there had been no difficulty but as soon as one got into detail it becomes quite difficult,” he said.

He said that if further assessments are required on the issue of Sumner’s capacity on the night in question, it may affect the planned start date for the trial.

“Our underlying concern is if the issue of capacity is to be explored it does require assessment and that will take some time,” he said.

“The underlying issue is complex. That is my concern for the trial date.”

Judge Goose told Sumner: “Today’s hearing is really to try to make sure the trial can take place on October 12.

“It is important everything is done properly to prepare for that hearing. The medical aspect is still being looked at.

“Keep in touch with your solicitors and see any doctors who come to see you so that can prepare reports so the court can see them.”

Members of Sumner’s family were in the public gallery for the hearing. Sumner spoke only twice during the hearing, once to confirm his name and the second time to confirm he could hear Judge Goose addressing him.

The next hearing in the case will take place on September 22.