Public feared terrorist attack during knife-wielding rampage on homeless people


A man who sent waves of terror through a city center when he launched a stabbing spree against the homeless has received a 23-year sentence.

Kieran McLoughlin, 32, went on a 10-minute rampage at Piccadilly Gardens and Market Street in Manchester city center at around 6pm on Sunday 12 January last year.

He cut four men in the face and another in the back while in sight of a busy Metrolink stop, the Manchester Evening News reported.

The senseless stabbings caused panic, with fears that the seemingly random knife attacks could have been a terrorist attack.

However, they were actually targeted attacks on vulnerable men begging on the streets.

McLoughlin was attacked by police at the Market Street trolley stop, when members of the public confronted him after his final stabbing.

All the victims of the Piccadilly Gardens stabbing spree were homeless men.



After being arrested, McLoughlin claimed to have no problems with the homeless, but said they “should be moving to work.”

A judge described the attacks as a “short but ruthless campaign of cruel, cold, calculated and targeted violence”.

Now McLoughlin, who refused to attend his sentencing hearing, was sentenced to 18 years in jail and given an additional five years on license when he is released.

The five victims were out on the streets around 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 12, last year.

Manchester Crown Court heard that the first attack occurred on Parker Street, near Piccadilly bus station, when he attacked a man who was standing begging.

McLoughlin cut him across the face, causing a 15cm gash.

He then calmly walked over to Greggs on Market Street, where two homeless men were sitting.

Tommy Dennison said he was having a cup of coffee outside Primark when a man walked up and slashed him across the face with a razor without saying a word.



Blood gushed from one of their faces after McLoughlin cut one of them.

McLoughlin then headed towards Primark, where another man named Tommy Dennison was sitting.

Before stabbing him, he snatched up a mug that another homeless man had been using to collect money and said ‘revenge is a s***’.

While lending and pretending to give Mr. Dennison some money, McLoughlin also cut him across the face.

After his ordeal, Dennison, then 52, said he needed 18 stitches.

McLoughlin then slashed the face of another homeless man, who was sitting leaning against a dumpster near Debenhams.

McLoughlin was eventually attacked by police at the Market Street trolley stop, when members of the public confronted him after his final stabbing.



After his fourth knife attack, McLoughlin walked to the Market Street trolley stop and sat on a bench for a few seconds.

Within sight of the busy streetcar stop, McLoughlin jumped out and stabbed a fifth homeless man, this time in the back.

Then he went back up to the stop and got on a tram.

But a group of young people surrounded him and a member of the public filmed him.

Police prevented the tram from leaving, and moments later, plainclothes officers tackled McLoughlin to the ground and gave him electric shocks.

Prosecuting, Andy Evans said the stabbings caused “fear and panic” within the city.

“This incident took place at a time of heightened fear and security following a terrorist atrocity in the city two years earlier,” he said.

After being arrested, McLoughlin said homeless people “should be moving to work.”



“The victims were very vulnerable homeless men begging, all attacked without warning, most while looking in the other direction. The homeless men were clearly targeted.”

“The injuries caused were shocking and occurred in full view of the hundreds of people, including children, present at the scene.”

After being arrested, McLoughlin said it was a case of mistaken identity and claimed he had no problem with homelessness.

“It’s not about the homeless, I don’t like Spice, I don’t like any of it,” he said. “I don’t like drugs, people who take drugs or people who are crazy around me.”

However, he said homeless people “should be moving to work.”

McLoughlin said he had been “hanging out” with friends and smoking cannabis before the stabbings, but claimed he was “sober as a judge.”

A jury saw through his lies and found him guilty of five counts of injuring with intent after a trial nearly a year ago.

“Kieran McLoughlin embarked on what was a short but vicious campaign of cruel, cold, calculated and directed violence against these five vulnerable men, a campaign that was as wanton and reckless as it was malicious and malign,” Judge Timothy Smith said.

“Clearly there was a broader impact on the public, who were justifiably concerned for their own safety in what were reported as random knife attacks, all occurring at a time of heightened fear of terrorist attacks.”

McLoughlin, who has 115 prior offenses in Ireland and a further 25 in the UK, has shown no remorse for his crimes, the judge added.

In defense, Paul Treble said that McLoughlin was living a chaotic lifestyle and had mental health issues.

But the judge said they had no part in his crime and were not serious enough to warrant hospital detention rather than prison.

McLoughlin will have to serve two-thirds of the 18-year sentence before the Parole Board decides if it’s safe to release him.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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