December 14, 2009 / 4:57 PM / 10 years ago

Leona Lewis attacker held under UK mental health laws

British singer Leona Lewis poses backstage at the MTV Europe Awards ceremony in Berlin November 5, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

LONDON (Reuters) - A schizophrenic man who admitted punching British pop star Leona Lewis as she signed copies of her autobiography in a London bookstore was ordered by a court on Monday to be detained indefinitely under mental health regulations.

Peter Kowalczyk, 29, hit the singer, who won the British TV talent show “The X Factor” and whose single “Bleeding Love” was a worldwide hit, in October.

London’s City of Westminster magistrates’ court was told that Kowalczyk said “gotcha” as he landed the punch.

Prosecutor Melanie Lee said Lewis, whose debut album “Spirit” has sold more than 6.5 million copies worldwide, was left with redness and swelling to the face, and whiplash symptoms.

“I feel completely devastated by this attack,” Lewis said in a witness statement read to the court.

“Now I am very frightened about going out in public and I don’t know where the next attack will come from and if this will be more serious than what has just happened.”

Judge Howard Riddle ordered Kowalczyk, who suffers from schizophrenia and who pleaded guilty to assault, to remain in hospital for an indeterminate period.

“This is what happens when you don’t take your medication. A woman is now devastated,” the judge said.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison

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