A former British intelligence worker confessed Wednesday to the attempted murder of a U.S. National Security Agency employee who had worked at the same base as him in western England, British news agencies reported.
Joshua Bowles, 29, pleaded guilty to trying to kill the woman, referred to in court only as 99230, with two knives outside a Cheltenham community center three miles from their base on March 9, according to the BBC and the U.K.’s Press Agency.
The woman’s nationality has not been confirmed, but The Guardian newspaper and at least one other British outlet reported that she was a U.S. citizen.
Appearing at the Old Bailey court via videolink from London’s Belmarsh Prison, Bowles was also charged with assaulting a man, named as Alex Fuentes, who tried to stop the attack on the NSA employee.
The court heard that Bowles had stopped working at GCHQ, one of the U.K.’s central intelligence agencies, security and cybersecurity agency, by the end of 2022. At the beginning of 2023, according to the prosecutor, he began tracking the woman’s movements, including online. He also researched two other employees of the U.S. agency, the prosecution said.
Bowles learned that the NSA worker played netball at a community center near the base and, having conducted a practice run a month before, attacked the woman, armed with two knives, as she was leaving the complex around 9:15 p.m.
Bowles punched Fuentes when he tried to protect the woman, who ran back into the community center.
Bowles pursued her with a knife in his hand, according to the BBC, after his first one broke in the parking lot.
The woman was able to flee back into the netball court, while Bowles remained in the community center reception area.
The woman was taken to a local hospital and treated for multiple stab wounds, including one which pierced her liver, according to Sky News.
Bowles was charged after an investigation by British counterterrorism police.
“Through our extensive and thorough investigation, it is clear that Bowles had selected his victim because of where she worked,” Detective Chief Superintendent Olly Wright, head of counterterrorism policing in the southeast of England, said in a statement. “It is for this reason that it was appropriate for specialist counterterrorism officers and staff to lead the investigation.”