Lecturer found guilty of trying to murder his estranged wife after stabbing her more than ten times
A university lecturer who stabbed his estranged wife more than ten times outside a child’s parents’ evening is facing jail.
Dr Ying Zhang, 55, stabbed Hannan Xiao, 52, in the chest, neck and back with a kitchen knife outside the school in Barnet.
Zhang would have killed Ms Xiao if electrician Richard O’Brien had not intervened by kicking him in the head with a steel toe-capped boot.
Ms Xiao, who teaches cybersecurity, sobbed ‘stop it, help me’ as Zhang stabbed her.
The lecturer has now been convicted of attempted murder and possession of a knife by an Old Bailey jury today after five hours and 14 minutes of deliberation.
Dr Ying Zhang, 55, a lecturer, has been convicted of attempted murder and possession of a knife
Judge Simon Mayo said he would recommend financial awards for the ‘selfless and brave intervention’ of witnesses Mr O’Brien and Sven Kupfer, who tried to push Zhang off his wife.
Zhang had repeatedly assaulted his wife and she had been to court several times to stop him harassing her, the Old Bailey heard.
The couple are both Chinese citizens. They met in 2004 and married in the UK in 2006 to live in Watford.
Ms Xiao is a senior lecturer in cyber security and director of online studies at King’s College London.
Zhang was senior lecturer in Computer Studies at the University of West London, having gained a postdoctoral qualification from the University of Cambridge.
They had separated by the time of the incident.
Walton Hornsby, prosecuting, had said Zhang was in a ‘state of cold fury’ with his wife for divorcing him.
‘He was not happy that she had made this request and asked her if she really wanted the divorce.
‘She replied ”Yes”. He said she ”should think about it… you are too quick”.’
Hannan Xiao is a senior lecturer in cyber security and director of online studies at King’s College London
Ms Xiao did not know Zhang was in the meeting, and when she left he followed her to her car.
CCTV shows him leaving the meeting and returning with a rucksack containing the knife.
He followed her out of the meeting to her car and when she spotted him they had an argument.
He then chased her into the road and began to attack her with the knife, Mr Hornsby said.
He said: ‘When she left the school she returned to her car and found him behind her.
‘He asked to get into the car saying that his was broken. She refused and said she was scared of him. She said he could get a train.
‘She ran into the road. She remembers him running up to her and catching hold of her and then ”he was just stabbing me”.
‘She asked him what he was doing and he didn’t say anything. She turned away from him exposing her back in order to protect her chest and heart.
‘The next thing she remembered was lying on the street on the road and an ‘old man’ holding her chest and she was covered in blood, and then a lady came to give her help who said she worked in a hospital.’
Mr O’Brien said Zhang seemed relentless and didn’t flinch at anything anyone said.
He said: ‘I thought that the female was going to lose her life if I did not stop him.’
He said Zhang was using as much force as he could when he was stabbing her.
The 52-year-old was stabbed in the chest, neck and back with a kitchen knife outside her child’s school in Barnet
Mr O’Brien kicked Zhang to the side of the head, knocking him unconscious and restrained him, the court heard.
‘I had a feeling that I need to do something otherwise this lady was going to lose her life,’ he said.
‘The gentleman in front got out of the vehicle to try and sort the situation out and the couple ended up falling onto the floor, the lady fell on her back.
‘She was struggling trying to defend herself flailing around and trying to stop him however she could.
‘Once her handbag fell away the knife was revealed and Sven shouted ‘he’s got a knife’ and went back to his car and moved away.
‘Initially I decide to jolt my vehicle in their direction to try and distract the man, get him off, make him stop.
‘I didn’t make contact, I pulled up six inches from their heads.
‘He was stabbing her in towards her ribs with a sideways stabbing motion.
‘He was focused 100 per cent. I started shouting at him but nothing I was saying had any effect on him.
‘He was absolutely all out, using as much force as he could to try and get to her and hurt her as much as possible. He stabbed her between 15 and 20 times.
‘She was just fighting for her life.
‘I was conscious I had protective boots on so I didn’t kick him as hard as I possibly could so I kicked him as hard as I thought I needed to to knock him out straight away.
‘The kick connected with his head on the right side of his face. I think it knocked him out. He went to the floor immediately and his body went limp.
‘He dropped the knife immediately and I went to grab him to move him away from the lady.’
Mr Hornsby added: ‘It was only the intervention of a member of the public that prevented the defendant from continuing the attack and killing her.
If not for Richard O’Brien’s intervention, Ms Xiao could have ‘very nearly died’
‘She did receive life threatening injuries, and it was only emergency surgery that saved her life.
‘She very nearly died, and it was Mr O’Brien’s action that saved her life.
‘Given the toxic history of the marriage and the severity of the stabbing, the prosecution case is that there is no doubt that the defendant intended to kill Hannan Xiao.’
‘As far as the marriage was concerned it was not always a happy one and it was marred by a number of incidents of domestic violence.’
Zhang accepted a caution for assault in relation to a violent argument at their home in Hatfield in July 2005, the court heard.
Ms Xiao said her husband was hard to control when he loses his temper.
Zhang pressured Ms Xiao to sign over her interest in the family home and threatened to kill her, in September and December 2006, jurors heard.
She reported further assaults in May 2008 and June 2012. In the first he threatened to kill her with a knife.
The couple separated after an incident of battery in August 2020.
Zhang accused his wife of being unfaithful with somebody at work and demanded to see her work emails. He assaulted her, saying ‘I’ll kill you one day’.
A non-molestation order was granted by Watford Family Court in October 2020 which prevented Zhang going within 100 metres of the family home.
Zhang breached the order numerous times.
Four days before the attack he booked a room in a guest house on the road where his wife lived and used it to watch her behaviour and take photographs of her, the court heard.
Zhang, of Stonecross Road, Hatfield, denied but was convicted of attempted murder and possession of a bladed article.
He is due to be sentenced on a date to be fixed.