Man jailed for life over machete attack on London tube train

A man has been jailed for life after carrying out a machete attack on a random commuter on a tube train in London.

Panicked passengers fled through two carriages when Ricky Morgan launched an unprovoked assault on James Porritt on the Jubilee line between Green Park and Bond Street in July last year.

Morgan, 35, was heard to say: “This is not a terror attack. I only want him.”

Porritt, who had been on his way to meet his girlfriend’s father, had told jurors it was like a “horror movie” or the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi film The Terminator. The incident, which was captured on CCTV, lasted for 20 minutes before Morgan was confronted by police and dropped the machete.

Porritt suffered a severe injury to his right hand as well as bone-deep cuts to his head and shin, and was given first aid by an off-duty doctor.

Morgan denied attempted murder on grounds of insanity but was found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey in May. He was also convicted of possessing a machete and a lock knife.

On Monday, Judge John Hillen jailed Morgan for life with a minimum term of 16 years.

The judge said: “In the early evening of 9 July 2021 in a crowded London Underground train carriage you tried to kill James Porritt, a man not known to you, by repeatedly slashing at him with the machete you had been carrying to use should the occasion arise.

“Having watched many times during the trial the ferocity of your attack captured by onboard CCTV images, James Porritt is very lucky to have survived.

“What happened will haunt him for the rest of his life. He thought he was going to die and never expected to escape from that attack alive.

“Many if not most of the people in the carriage, fearing you were about to slash people indiscriminately – and at least some of them fearing it was a terrorist attack – got up and started screaming and frantically trying to get away.

James Porritt
James Porritt, in a photograph taken before the attack. Photograph: Family handout/PA

“It was a wonder that no one else suffered injury. I think it is not too sensationalist or overdramatic to say this was every traveller’s nightmare.”

Hillen commended two members of the public for awards for trying to calm down Morgan before armed police arrived.

Earlier, Porritt became emotional as he described the devastating impact of the “horrific and undeserved” attack.

Speaking in court, he said: “It took less than 20 seconds on Friday 9 July 2021 for my entire world to be irrevocably and irreversibly damaged and altered.

“I was caught completely off guard and unaware. I had no idea what weapon Ricky Morgan was using to attack me.

“It was only after he continued to rain down on me with relentless and persistent strikes that I realised he had used a sharp object to cut my right, dominant hand into several pieces.”

He recalled letting out a “piercing scream” and begging for Morgan to stop, only for the attacker to continue to “hack away”.

The victim described the “pure terror” of being chased by Morgan, adding: “I genuinely thought he was going to kill me. He left me for dead.”

Despite attending the trial, Porritt said he still had unanswered questions and was left feeling unsafe. As a result of his injuries, he can no longer sign his own name or do sports he used to enjoy.

“This is not fair; I do not deserve this,” he said. “This should not have happened to me.”

Porritt said there had been a knock-on effect on his family and his partner, saying: “It breaks my heart we cannot hold hands like we used to.”

Addressing Morgan in the dock, Porritt said no sentence would give back the life the defendant took away from him: “I hope you realise that, I really do. How does someone ever start to come to terms with such a horrific and undeserved attack?”

Porritt was given a letter from the defendant to read but said it “changed nothing”, adding: “My only hope and desire is that no one else ever has to go through what I went through.”

The court heard that Morgan had a history of low-level violence dating back to the age of 13. He had 26 previous convictions for 58 offences, including discharging a sawn-off shotgun into a private house.

In mitigation, Warwick Aleeson acknowledged Porritt’s “deeply moving” statement and said the offences were likely to have come about as a result of Morgan’s “profound and serious undiagnosed schizophrenia”.

On Morgan’s willingness to seek treatment, the barrister said: “Ricky Morgan does not wish to be the terrified, deluded creature living in a room he had barricaded from the outside world, believing attackers were going to kill him.”

Morgan was born in Newham, east London, had a troubled upbringing and became homeless after his release from prison in 2020.