Revealed: Police blunders that left knife thug free to murder Harry Potter actor

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A serial knife attacker was found guilty yesterday of murdering teenage Harry Potter actor Robert Knox.

Cannabis addict Karl Bishop, 22, refused to hear the jury's verdicts at the Old Bailey.

As he awaited sentencing, it emerged that he was accused of a knifepoint robbery in March last year. But even though he had already been jailed for a knife attack, detectives failed to follow up the complaint.

This meant that two months later he was free to kill 18-year-old Robert with two 12in kitchen knives during a bloodbath in a suburban bar.

Friends of the family said Robert's father Colin believed his son would still be alive today if the complaint had been dealt with correctly. Two Scotland Yard officers have been disciplined over the scandal.

Robert was stabbed to death last May at the Metro Bar in Sidcup, South-East London, as he confronted Bishop over threats made to his younger brother Jamie, then 17.

During the frenzied 90-second attack, Bishop - whose face was 'screwed up in rage' - stabbed six people 11 times with the two knives. In an apparent reference to the Dirty Harry films starring Clint Eastwood, he said: 'Who's going to make my f****** day?' before lashing out. 

Robert was knifed five times. The fatal stab wound ruptured an artery close to his heart and he died in hospital soon afterwards. 

The attack came after a series of run-ins between Robert and his friends and Bishop. In the same bar a week earlier, Bishop, from Sidcup, threatened Robert for having the temerity to stand up to him following a row over a lost mobile phone. He warned: 'I'm going to come back next week and someone is going to die.'

After carrying out his threat at the Metro Bar, Bishop was overpowered by onlookers. Cut and bruised, he begged police to protect him from the angry crowd. But as he was led away, he winked and smirked. 

Later that evening, he came face to face with some of his victims in hospital and hurled a volley of abuse in which he threatened to rape their relatives. He told a police officer to take him straight to Belmarsh prison, saying: 'I'm going down anyway. I don't mind, I get gym every day, meals, just take me there.'

His reaction to learning that Rob had died was: 'Yeah, sweet.'

In the melee, Tom Hopkins, 18, Nick Lee Jones, 20, Charlie Grimley, 17, Andrew Dormer, 16, and 22-year-old Dean Saunders were all stabbed by Bishop. Mr Saunders was almost paralysed after being knifed in the neck. He spent months at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire and still has difficulty walking unaided for any length of time.

Two days before his death Robert had finished filming the role of Marcus Belby in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, which is due out this summer. He was also celebrating being offered a part in the final instalment of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

He had been acting since joining a drama school at the age of 11 and had already had parts in ITV's The Bill and BBC's When You've Gone with Nicholas Lyndhurst. His father and mother Sally separated a year ago.

Colin Knox collapsed in tears yesterday as the jury unanimously found Bishop guilty of his son's murder plus three counts of wounding with intent.

Mr Justice Bean, who heard impact statements from both of Robert's parents, will pass sentence today.

In her statement read to the court, Sally Knox said: 'As a mother and parent, I can never forgive the person responsible for taking my son Robert's life, or the devastation that has been caused by these actions.'

During the trial, prosecutor Brian Altman QC described Bishop as a habitual knife carrier who 'carried knives like others carried pens in their pockets ... he quite happily thinks little or nothing of stabbing others as if it were some occupational hazard'.

Bishop himself admitted he regularly carried knives for 'protection innit?'. He said that at the time of the stabbings the 'red mist' had descended and he 'didn't care' what happened. continues here

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