An ‘insane’ lawyer went on a £500,000 rampage through supermarkets injecting food with blood, a court was told.
Leoaai Elghareeb, 37, was reported to have walked into three stores in Fulham, west London, throwing blood-filled syringes and eggs on August 25 last year.
The solicitor even threw a syringe at a doctor but it bounced off her causing no injuries, a jury heard.
The supermarkets – Sainsbury’s Local, Tesco Express and Little Waitrose – were forced to throw away all the products in store as a precaution, which cost nearly £500,000 in losses.
Prosecutor Philip Stott told Isleworth Crown Court: ‘Mr Elghareeb is accused of doing two types of things: firstly contaminating goods, and secondly assaulting two people, a Bilal Ansari and a Dr Meghana Kulkarni.
‘In short what happened is this: in the early evening of a late summer’s day last year, Mr Elghareeb walked down the Fulham Palace Road in West London carrying a bucket. It was filled with syringes, some of which had hypodermic needles attached.
‘A number of those syringes were filled with blood – his own. Mr Elghareeb then entered, in turn, three supermarkets on the Fulham Palace Road – in order: they were Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – and he proceeded to stick those syringes in food products inside those branches of those supermarkets.
‘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 is understood to have started walking down Fulham Palace Road at around 7.30pm carrying a bucket apparently full of syringes.
He stared at Dr Kulkarni as they passed one another, which made her feel ‘uncomfortable as he seemed aggressive’. He then threw a syringe at her and it hit her in the chest.
Mr Stott said: ‘Fortunately the syringe had no needle attached to it, and it just bounced off her without causing any injuries.’
Elghareeb then started talking to other people on the street who were picking up syringes from the floor.
He entered Little Waitrose and started to jab food products with needles, including apples and Chicken Tikka Fillets.
The court was shown CCTV footage of Elghareeb – wearing trainers, black shorts and a black American sports-style T-shirt carrying the bucket – casually walking around the store for two minutes throwing syringes and injecting things.
Staff were alerted and asked all customers to drop their shopping, and leave the supermarket.
Elghareeb continued his rampage down the road to Sainsbury’s Local, where he again started injecting food and throwing syringes.
He pushed security guard Mr Ansari while shouting things such as: ‘You are all vile people and Sainsbury’s is vile.’
Mr Ansari added in a written statement: ‘As he got closer to the tills, I remember him saying to another customer, “Why are you looking at me you fat b***h?”
‘He threw an egg at the customer as well as an unknown object.
‘During that time period, I was not aware he had injected syringes into the produce.
‘But soon afterwards, a female customer came to me and my manager with a cooked chicken with a syringe implanted in it.
‘We took the product from the customer and at the back of the store we found another syringe on the floor.’
Elghareeb then entered Tesco Express and started doing the same thing, and workers closed the store immediately.
He walked past the Avanti tapas bar and threw a plant pot through the open door, which almost hit a waiter. He was then arrested just before 8pm outside a pub called The Distillers.
Mr Stott added: ‘The stores also, inevitably, took the precaution of throwing away and destroying all their produce before reopening some days later.’
This cost Waitrose approximately £207,000, Sainsbury’s £143,000, and Tesco approximately £117,000.
‘So nearly half a million pounds worth of loss to those three businesses,’ he said.
The three supermarkets recovered a total of 21 syringes during the deep cleaning processes.
Elghareeb, of Crabtree Lane in Fulham, denies three counts of contaminating goods and two counts of assault.
It is agreed he carried out the acts, but the prosecution understands the defence is set to argue ‘Mr Elghareeb was, in the legal sense, insane at the time’.
The court was told Elghareeb thought the world was fake like in The Truman Show film and wanted to alert ‘the real police’ to get rid of ‘an implant in his brain’ which he thought the MI5 was using to monitor him.
He was said to regularly use crystal meth to self-medicate for his mental health problems.
Dr Bradley Hillier, a psychiatrist and consultant in mental health to the United Nations, gave evidence to say he believed Elghareeb is suffering from psychosis that leads him to be out of touch with reality.
He said brain scans completed at HMP Wandsworth exposed brain atrophy – the loss of brain cells – as a result of using drugs.
Dr Hillier said: ‘I don’t think he appreciated that he thought it was morally or legally wrong because he psychotically believed that he would get in touch with the real police who would help him to get this implant out of his brain.
‘At that time, Mr Elghareeb was so out of touch with reality that I don’t think he would fully appreciate the consequences of those actions in those specific terms.’
On why he carried out the syringe attacks, Dr Hillier added: ‘What Mr Elghareeb believed is the only way he could escape this suffering of this existence was by essentially creating a situation that the real police would somehow intervene and he believed following on from that there would be a process of reconciliation that he would have a brain scan to identify the device in his brain.’
He had previously said things along similar themes before he was involved in criminal proceedings, Dr Hillier said.
The trial is expected to conclude today.
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