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Attempted murder accused in court over stabbing of neurosurgeon Michael Wong

Date

Mark Russell and Julia Medew

The man accused of attempting to murder neurosurgeon Dr Michael Wong at the Western Hospital in Footscray has appeared briefly in court.

Kareem al-Salam, 43, of Sunshine, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday via videolink from the Melbourne Assessment Prison in West Melbourne.

Mr al-Salam allegedly repeatedly stabbed Dr Wong during an attack in the hospital's main entrance at about 8.30am on February 28 as the neurosurgeon arrived for work.

He has been charged with attempting to murder Dr Wong, intentionally causing serious injury in circumstances of gross violence and recklessly causing serious injury.

Defence lawyer Rainer Martini asked magistrate Gerard Lethbridge for a short adjournment to give him the opportunity to discuss Mr al-Salam's psychiatric report with him.

Mr al-Salam had been interviewed by forensic psychiatrist Dr Lester Walton on July 11.

Mr Martini said he needed time to organise for an Arabic interpreter to go with him to discuss the report with Mr al-Salam at the Melbourne Assessment Prison.

The defence lawyer said he had received a letter from the Office of Public Prosecutions dated July 25 indicating the Crown was seeking to obtain medical records and other documents from the Western Hospital involving Mr al-Salam.

Mr Martini said these documents did not yet form part of the police brief of evidence against Mr al-Salam.

Mr Lethbridge agreed to adjourn the case to September 4 for a further committal mention.

When told by the magistrate he was being excused, Mr al-Salam said: "Thank you, yes, your honour."

Dr Wong told Fairfax Media in a recent interview how he had just stepped through the main entrance of the Western Hospital when he felt a knife plunge deep into his back.

The sharp blow knocked him to the ground, where he remained while his attacker stood over him, stabbing him another 13 times in his arms, hands, chest, abdomen and forehead.

"I remember every second of the attack. I remember the knife coming down and I remember turning my head because I didn't want to be blind," Dr Wong said.

Horrified patients and staff rushed to help Dr Wong, who then underwent life-saving surgery.

He lost his entire supply of blood (between five and six litres were replaced with transfusions) as his colleagues worked hard to save his life.

Dr Wong has since regained full movement in his arms and hands, allowing him to return to work at the Royal Melbourne, Epworth Eastern and John Fawkner hospitals.

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