Man 'tried to stab woman to death because he thought she was spy', court hears


A man accused of trying to stab a woman to death outside a leisure centre because he believed she worked at GCHQ has appeared in court. Joshua Bowles, 29, was charged with attempted murder after an investigation by counter-terror detectives. 

Mr Bowles allegedly had two knives when he launched an attack at about 9.15pm last Thursday as the woman left a leisure centre, in Tommy Taylors Lane, with a friend.

The site of the alleged attack is around three miles from the UK intelligence agency’s base in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Mr Bowles allegedly punched and stabbed her in the car park before continuing the attack inside the building as she tried to escape.

She was repeatedly stabbed and remains in hospital in a stable condition.

Mr Bowles was arrested at the scene and appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Thursday March 16) with a beard and wearing a grey, prison-issue tracksuit.

The defendant, of Welwyn Mews, Cheltenham, is charged with the attempted murder of “99230” on March 9 and a separate charge of assaulting Alex Fuentes, causing him actual bodily harm, on the same date.

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.

Prosecutor Kathryn Selby said he should be dealt with under the terrorism protocol because Mr Bowles allegedly targeted the woman because “he believed she worked for GCHQ and holds views on the work they conduct” and because in his mind she “represents the state”.

Craig Tickner, defending, made no application for bail. District Judge Nina Tempia remanded Mr Bowles in custody ahead of his next appearance at the Old Bailey on March 31.

Following the charges, Detective Chief Superintendent Olly Wright, head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East, said: “We would encourage people not to speculate on the specific circumstances surrounding this incident.

“We believe this was an isolated incident and there is no information to suggest any wider threat to the local community.

“We must now let the judicial process take place.”


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