A fell-running champion who stabbed a British Athletics official in the head and neck in a “savage” attack has pleaded guilty to attempted murder.
Lauren Jeska left Ralph Knibbs, UK Athletics’ head of human resources and welfare, in a life-threatening condition after taking two knives to the governing body’s offices at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium in March.
The city’s Crown Court was told two colleagues of Mr Knibbs suffered less serious injuries after stepping in to tackle Jeska.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed after the hearing that the athlete drove from her home in Wales to Birmingham on March 22, entered UK Athletics’ offices and asked to speak to the victim.
The fell-runner was asked to wait in reception but made her way into the open plan office and attacked Mr Knibbs.
Commenting after the court hearing, Sean Kyne, district crown prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Lauren Jeska had a disagreement with British Athletics officials which escalated and rather than resolve the matter through the appropriate channels, she armed herself with a number of knives, drove from her home in Wales to Birmingham and launched a premeditated and savage attack.”
Former team-mates of Jeska expressed shock at her actions after she admitted two counts of having a knife in a public place, two of assault causing actual bodily harm and attempting to kill 51-year-old Mr Knibbs.
Jeska, of Wesley Terrace in Machynlleth, Powys, entered her pleas from a video conferencing suite at HMP Foston Hall in Derbyshire.
The 42-year-old was England’s champion fell-runner three times between 2010-12, and has been a member of Todmorden Harriers, Aberystwyth Athletics Club and another club based in Snowdonia.
Speaking after the court hearing, the secretary of Aberystwyth AC, Anita Worthing, said: “Lauren was a second-claim member of our club.
“Her primary club was Todmorden Harriers, but while she was living here she also joined Aberystwyth AC and ran in our colours for local races.
“I have no idea why she would want to kill anyone. I always knew her as a kind, gentle and exceptionally helpful person.”
Former rugby star Mr Knibbs played 436 times for Bristol RFC, scoring 123 tries during a career spanning the 1980s and 1990s.
He was in court to see Jeska enter her pleas but declined to comment after the hearing.
The court heard the injuries of Jeska’s other victims – accountant Timothy Begley and finance director Kevan Taylor – were “not of the most serious order”.
Judge Philip Parker QC was told that the defendant had been the subject of psychiatric assessment but further reports would be necessary before she is sentenced on November 15.
After Jeska’s pleas were entered, prosecutor Richard Atkins QC said not guilty pleas to charges of wounding were acceptable to the Crown and that the victims were content with the decision not to proceed to a trial.