A doctor who was stabbed nine times in a random, unprovoked attack has said he feels a “sense of connection” with his attacker, whom he told in court: “I am not upset or angry with you.”
Dr Adam Towler, a former trauma specialist from Bristol, drew praise from a judge who described his response to his disturbing attack in 2019 as “extraordinary”.
Towler, who develops medical software, was stabbed repeatedly by then 17-year-old Chanz Maximen, including with a blow that missed his heart by two centimetres.
Maximen knocked on Towler’s door and shone a light through his letterbox, leading the doctor to think a prank was being played; when he opened the door, Maximen pulled him into the road and stabbed him.
As Maximen was jailed for life with a minimum term of 12 years on Wednesday, his motive for the attack is still not fully understood.
As is customary, a victim impact statement was read at the sentencing hearing – but the tone of Towler’s missive has turned heads with its forgiving and philosophical nature.
“To begin, I want to say that I am not upset or angry with you,” Towler said. “I don’t think you owe me an apology or anything, but I do want to you to know what it’s like for me.”
Judge William Hart described Towler’s statement as “extraordinary”, saying: “Whether it is the effect of intellect, or faith, or kindness and understanding, I don’t know.
“If it is the consequence of intellect, I admire it. If it is the consequence of faith, I envy it.”
Expanding on the thoughts behind the statement on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday, Towler said: “The fact we’re here talking today, I got lucky. I’m living a quite normal life, a comfortable life. My immediate outlook is rather more comfortable than Chanz Maximen’s position.
“I guess also in some odd way I felt a sense of connection with him. He and I were two individuals connected in this event. I haven’t been able to speak to him …
“But I don’t feel angry with him. What happened, happened. Neither of us can unwind the clocks on those events so now I have the rest of my life before me and he does, too.”
Towler added: “No one knows what he thought, what he does think, no one knows whether he will be judged safe to return to society but his whole life turned on that event. Prior to this, there was no mental history, he was on a good course and that may be difficult for him. I know it’s certainly difficult to his family who have supported him with great tenacity and loyalty through the legal process.”
He said it would be “cool” if his approach helped others to think differently.
“If the approach stimulates a thought in some other people, perhaps gives them some tools to think differently about a difficult situation they’re experiencing, then that’s cool. I think in these situations, there’s no right, so go with it,” he said.
During the attack, Towler said Maximen had said “you killed the girl”, a phrase that he has never explained and that meant nothing to the victim or investigators.
Sentencing him for the stabbing and two more random attacks carried out in Bristol in the following weeks, the judge said: “There is no logical explanation for any of your offending other than that you are a highly dangerous young man with a wholly distorted view of life and appropriate conduct.”