Cheltenham man jailed for attempted murder
By Police reporter | 30th October 2023
A man has been jailed for life with a minimum term of 13 years after he attacked a woman and tried to kill her because she worked for the US Government.
Joshua Bowles, of Welwyn Mews, Cheltenham, had previously pleaded guilty to one count of attempted murder and one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
At a sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey, Justice Cheema-Grubb DBE ruled that Bowles was motivated by a terrorist ideology.
He was charged with the offences following an investigation led by Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) into an incident that happened at a leisure centre in Tommy Taylor's Lane on March 9, 2023.
The court heard how Bowles had selected his victim - who cannot be named for legal reasons - because of her job working for the US Government at GCHQ in Cheltenham. Bowles had previously worked for GCHQ, but was not employed by the organisation at the time of the attack.
The 29-year-old had visited the leisure centre four weeks before the incident as part of a reconnaissance in preparation for his planned attack.
He had previously researched the victim extensively and discovered that she was due to play netball at the leisure centre on certain evenings. He then planned his attack around that detail.
On the evening of the attack, March 9, 2023, Bowles sat in his car waiting for the victim and then when he spotted her, proceeded to chase and try and attack her in the car park of the leisure centre.
A member of the public who tried to intervene while Bowles was attacking the woman, was also assaulted by Bowles during the incident, and sustained minor injuries.
The victim initially managed to get away from Bowles, but he then followed her into the leisure centre where he stabbed her a number of times, before dropping the knife and calmly waiting for police to arrive.
When the attack happened in March, officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary responded and began the initial investigation. It was subsequently passed to the Counter Terrorism Policing network, where CTPSE took the lead, supported by officers from Counter Terrorism Policing South West (CTPSW) and Gloucestershire Constabulary.
Bowles was sentenced on Monday, October 30.
Detective Chief Superintendent Olly Wright, Head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE), said: "This was a planned and violent attack on two innocent victims.
"Bowles made comments in his initial police interviews that suggested he had selected his target because of where she worked, and our investigation revealed this as the core motive behind this attack. It also underlines the seriousness of this case and explains why officers from Counter Terrorism Policing took on the investigation.
"Despite the valiant efforts of a member of the public, who intervened to help during the first part of the attack, Bowles was undeterred. He went on to stab the victim a number of times, which must have been a terrifying ordeal.
"I do not underestimate the potential long-lasting effects this incident will have on the victim and her family and friends. I hope now that the court proceedings have concluded, she can begin to rebuild her life after this horrendous ordeal."
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