A paranoid schizophrenic was today sentenced to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of 12 years, for the killing of two Big Issue sellers.
Ian Gladwish, 31, and Wayne Busst, 32, who were homeless, were stabbed in Union Street, Birmingham city centre, on January 11.
At Birmingham Crown Court today, John Ward pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
Ward must now serve a minimum of 12 years before being considered for parole and was given a hospital order to remain in Ashworth Hospital for treatment. The judge told him he may never be released, but that would be for others to decide in the future.
The court heard how Ward had travelled up to Birmingham from London the day before the killings, where he met Mr Gladwish and Mr Ward.
The three spent several hours together during the day, before meeting up again shortly before the stabbing.
Both men were stabbed to death near their pitches.
The killings of two Big Issue sellers in Birmingham shook the organisation to the core, said its founder.
The Big Issue founder John Bird said: “I found it very difficult because being the person who put the whole thing together, I thought, maybe I shouldn’t have bothered.
“Every time somebody gets attacked or murdered, you do stop and think. It wouldn’t be human not to stop and think ‘isn’t there another way to do it?’”
Homeless John Ward, 23, of no fixed address, today pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Birmingham Crown Court.
The court heard how Ward had travelled up to Birmingham from London the day before the killings, where he met the pair. The three spent several hours together during the day, before meeting up again shortly before the stabbing.
One of the men was stabbed outside Sainsbury’s in Union Street, while the other was found slumped nearby outside a side entrance to Boots.
In late January, a memorial service for the victims was held at St Martin’s Church, in Birmingham City Centre. The Big Issue is sold on the streets by homeless people, who themselves have to initially buy the copies for 50 per cent of the cover price.
The aim is for the vendors to earn money – but also to take charge of their finances, develop skills and have their self-esteem boosted.
Following their deaths Mr Gladwish’s family said: “Ian was a husband, son, brother and dad. He was a kind, loving person.
“To be taken away from us in these circumstances has left us all devastated.”
Mr Busst’s family said: “We are deeply saddened. He will be greatly missed.”