A man who stabbed a Muslim surgeon in the neck as he made his way into a Manchester mosque has been found not guilty of attempted murder.
Ian Rooke, 28, attacked Dr Nasser Kurdy from behind with a kitchen knife on September 24 last year.
But a jury at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court cleared Rooke of trying to kill Dr Kurdy.
The three-day trial heard Rooke, who admitted the attack but denied attempted murder, apologise to his victim in court.
Jurors heard Mr Kurdy was not attacked because he was entering a mosque, or because he is Muslim, but was simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“I would just like to apologise to Mr Kurdy and even to my mother. I’m really sorry,” Mr Rooke told the court on Thursday.
Jurors came back with a majority not guilty verdict on Friday afternoon.
Rooke attacked Mr Kurdy as he walked into the Islamic Cultural Centre in Hale, Trafford, at around 5.30pm on September 24 last year.
The assailant has a personality disorder and was prescribed mood-stabilising drugs. On the day of the attack he said he hadn’t taken his medication for two days.
Rooke said Mr Kurdy was the “first guy he had seen without kids” and that he was “having it.”
The 58-year-old orthopaedic surgeon retreated inside the building, grabbed a chair to defend himself and went outside to confront Mr Rooke, but he had fled, the court heard.
The father-of-three suffered a 5cm wound to the left side of the back of his neck.
The wound had missed his jugular vein and spinal cord by millimetres and Mr Kurdy was taken to hospital for stitches.
After the verdict Mr Kurdy said he forgave his attacker in order to get on with his life.
Rooke will be sentenced in May over the charge of wounding with intent.