Countdown stabbings: Man pleads guilty to attempted murder

Luke James Lambert appeared in court via video link from Invercargill Prison this morning. Photo:...
Luke James Lambert appeared in court via video link from Invercargill Prison this morning. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
WARNING: Content may disturb.

The man behind the Countdown supermarket stabbings in Dunedin has pleaded guilty to the frenzied attack in May and can finally be unmasked.

Luke James Lambert (42) appeared in the High Court at Dunedin this morning, by video link from Invercargill Prison, where he admitted four charges of attempted murder.

Counsel John Westgate confirmed there was no application for continued name suppression - an order that had been in force since charges were laid following the shocking incident on May 10 this year. 

Chaos ensued when Lambert, of Dunedin, walked into Countdown Central about 2.35pm that day and began stabbing people in the pharmacy aisle.

Crown prosecutor Richard Smith said Lambert had made an earlier trip to the supermarket that day where he bought a soft drink but had insufficient funds for two cans of beer.

He later complained to an associate in the Octagon about not getting access to medication.

“Someone’s going to get it,” Lambert said.

Police had scoured the defendant’s medical records and there was no evidence he had been refused prescription drugs, the court heard.

The attack took place at the central Dunedin supermarket on May 10 this year. Photo: Craig Baxter
The attack took place at the central Dunedin supermarket on May 10 this year. Photo: Craig Baxter

When Lambert returned to the supermarket, he pulled a pack of four knives from shelves, each with a 7cm blade.

In the pharmacy section, he put his backpack on the floor and removed two knives from their packaging.

He first approached a staff member who was stocking a shelf, slashing her face from earlobe to chin and pushing her to the floor.

Lambert climbed on top of her and continued stabbing, causing her wounds to her head and arms.

“I’m going to kill you,” he said.

One of the store’s senior managers, Dallas Wilson, pulled the attacker off the prone woman and held him from behind as Jorge Fuenzalida also tried to help.

Lambert was still able to reach behind himself and wound Mr Wilson three times in the abdomen and once in the pelvis.

He then turned his attention to Vanessa Andrews, who was walking towards Mr Fuenzalida, her husband.

She fell to the floor after the defendant stabbed her twice in the back.

Mr Fuenzalida, who had also been knocked over, was then attacked and Lambert stabbed them alternately and repeatedly as the couple tried desperately to help each other.

Mr Fuenzalida suffered a deep wound to the left side of his neck, which came within 1cm of major blood vessels, as well as a broken wrist.

Supermarket staff, members of the public and off-duty police restrained the defendant at the scene and administered fist aid to the victims.

Those actions saved lives, court documents said.

The harrowing list of injuries the victims sustained was so long, each made up a page of the Crown summary of facts.

Mr Wilson, who was discharged 10 days after the incident, called it a “random attack” and paid tribute to those who subdued Lambert at the scene, as well as those who provided him with medical treatment in the aftermath.

Ms Andrews and Mr Fuenzalida were last to leave hospital and released a statement through police in June saying that what happened remained very much on their minds.

''We try to help people where we can, and that day we heard people in distress. During the process we both got badly injured,'' they said.

The fourth victim was granted interim name suppression by Justice Cameron Mander this morning.

Lambert was given a first-strike warning and will be sentenced in May next year.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz 

 
 

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