Lawyer Leoaai Elghareeb, 37, of Fulham, was found not guilty of contaminating goods and two counts of assault by reason of insanity – despite the court agreeing he did commit the offenses
A lawyer who injected his own blood into food at several west London supermarkets has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Leoaai Elghareeb went into three stores on Fulham Palace Road on August 25, 2021 carrying a bucketful of hypodermic needles.
The 37-year-old solicitor jabbed products including an apple, bacon, buttermilk and Chicken Tikka Fillets.
He also threw a syringe at a doctor but luckily it bounced off her causing no injuries.
The three supermarkets – Sainsbury’s Local, Tesco Express and Little Waitrose – had to throw away all their products as a precaution, causing nearly £500,000 in losses.
It was agreed Elghareeb committed the offences, but his barrister argued he was insane at the time he carried out those acts.
He denied three counts of contaminating goods and two counts of assault and a jury at Isleworth Crown Court on Thursday found him not guilty by reason of insanity.
Earlier this year a jury had to be discharged after they failed to reach a verdict.
Judge Alastair Hammerton said some level of sentencing is still needed, but the options will “take time to explore”.
He ordered reports to be prepared by two psychiatrists.
CCTV footage played in court shows Elghareeb entering Sainsbury’s wearing distinctive Nike shorts and an American football-style t-shirt.
He walks over to the ready meal section then dramatically jabs food with a syringe.
Elghareeb then makes his way to the next section, eyeing up the food products while holding what appears to be another syringe in his mouth before injecting a second food product.
Diana Wilson, prosecuting, told the court how Elghareeb walked along Fulham Palace Road with his bucket of syringes filled with his blood.
“Along the way he also threw some of the syringes at people inside and outside the store including hitting a passerby on the street.
“As he was confronted, because of his actions, by a succession of store personnel inside the supermarkets he assaulted one of them by pushing him, in addition to throwing verbal insults at those around him.”
Elghareeb then pushed security guard Bilal Ansari in the chest shouting: “You are all vile people and Sainsbury’s is vile.”
He did the same in Tesco, injecting food and throwing syringes, forcing staff to close the store immediately.
Shortly before he was arrested, he walked past a Tapas bar called Avanti and threw a plant pot through the open door, narrowly missing a waiter.
The three supermarkets found a total of 21 syringes during a thorough search and deep-clean before they were able to reopen.
He was arrested just before 8pm outside a pub called The Distillers.
Ms Wilson said Waitrose lost approximately £207,000, Sainsbury’s £143,000 and Tesco £117,000.
Dr Meghana Kulkarni was walking along Crabtree Lane, Fulham, when she saw Elghareeb staring at her before he threw an empty syringe at her chest.
She said she then saw Elghareeb “throw an egg at the tills.”
Dr Frank Farnham, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, told the court Elghareeb suffers from a “severe disease of the mind resulting in a loss of a sense of reality”.
He said Elghareeb heard voices commanding him to do things by controlling his dreams and parts of his body.
“These are often encountered by issues of schizophrenia.”
Elghareeb had previously worked at some of London’s most prestigious ‘Magic Circle’ law firms before he began to abuse crystal meth as part of his “work hard and play hard lifestyle”, the court heard.
Dr Farnham said the solicitor had suffered psychological trauma including periods of homelessness after coming out as gay to his family.
In 2020 he had tried to hang himself to make the voices in his head stop.
Elghareeb believed the voices in his head resulted from government spies placing implants in his ears and skull.
Dr Farnham concluded: “It didn’t cross his mind whether it was legal or unlawful, he was making a desperate attempt to draw attention from the police and be treated.
“He was in such a disordered mental state that he couldn’t form a rational decision.”
Fellow psychiatrist Dr Bradley Hillier had assessed Elghareeb four months after the incident while he was on remand in HMP Wandsworth.
He said Elghareeb has had a “lengthy history of mental health problems” and has previously sought help from the mental health services in this country.
He has at least a 12-year history of mental health problems including “strong suicidal episodes” and times when he has harmed himself.
Elghareeb liked his experience to the character played by Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, as he believed he was living in a world where nothing was real.
Elghareeb, of Crabtree Lane, Fulham, was remanded in custody until June 9.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.