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When identical twin sisters Sabina and Ursula Eriksson suddenly and inexplicably ran into motorway traffic, it sparked a chain of events that were shocking, horrifying, tragic and bizarre in equal measure.
For a long time, everyone from police to doctors were puzzled by what followed. But months later, it was concluded that an extremely rare, shared mental disorder had been at the root.
And now, the story is to be retold and examined in a new BBC documentary.
The sisters, from Sweden, were on holiday in England in 2008 when the events took place. Then aged 40, Ursula had been living in the US, while Sabina had settled in Ireland with her partner and two children.
They were on a National Express coach from Liverpool to London, but after stopping at Keele services on the M6, the driver was unnerved by their strange behaviour and refused to let them back on.
A concerned manager at the service station also called police.
Officers spoke to the women and decided there was nothing untoward.
But what happened next remains one of the most unusual and tragic episodes of mental illness ever caught on camera.
Shortly after the police departed, the sisters darted into the motorway. Sabina suffered a glancing blow from a car.
Officers rushed to the scene, accompanied by a TV crew who were filming the series Motorway Cops.
As they tried to work out what was happening, suddenly Ursula broke free and ran into the side of a lorry travelling at around 56mph.
Sabina then also ran out and was hit head-on by a VW polo travelling at high speed. She was knocked unconscious
Ursula's legs were crushed and an Air Ambulance was called for, but as paramedics treated her she tried to fight them off screaming: "I recognise you – I know you're not real."
Astonishingly, Sabina came to and screamed to her sister, "They're going to steal your organs," before getting up, punching an officer in the face and running into the road again.
She was taken to an ambulance and sedated.
When Sabina woke up in hospital she was calmer and the next day pleaded guilty before magistrates to trespassing on the motorway and assaulting a police officer.
Having spent almost a day in custody she was allowed to walk free – with tragic consequences.
As she wandered the streets of Stoke-on-Trent looking for the hospital her sister was in, she approached 54-year-old RAF veteran Glenn Hollinshead, asking if he knew of a hotel or bed and breakfast she could stay in overnight.
He kindly said she could stay at his house but became alarmed by her behaviour and left before midnight to bunk up at a mate's.
The next day he returned and tried to help her find her sister again before they went back to his house for something to eat.
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Sabina then stabbed Mr Hollinshead four times with a kitchen knife.
He staggered out of his home, telling a neighbour, "She stabbed me," before collapsing dead in an alleyway.
As frantic neighbours dialled 999, Sabina, who was wielding a hammer, fled the scene.
She soon began hitting herself over the head with it and when a passing motorist stopped to help her, she hit him with a roof tile, before jumping off a 40ft-high bridge onto the A50. She suffered two broken ankles and a fractured skull.
She eventually plead guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility and was jailed for five years.
During both her interrogation and trial, Sabina offered no explanation for her actions.
However, experts suggested the sisters had been been suffering from "folie à deux", a rare disorder where delusional beliefs are transmitted and shared between two people.
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The court was also told Sabina was suffering from a rare psychiatric disorder which made her hear voices.
The judge said: “While the mental illness resolved quickly, both psychiatrists agree it was serious and that she behaved in the way she did because of her illness.
“Her culpability for her behaviour is, on the medical evidence, accordingly low. She was suffering from delusions which she believed to be true and they dictated her behaviour.
“It is also not one of those cases where the defendant could have done something to avoid the onset.
“It had a sudden onset, it was a serious illness while it lasted and it resolved rapidly.”
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Following the verdict, Mr Hollinshead's brother Garry told The Sentinel newspaper: "Her mental condition should have been properly assessed after what she did on the motorway and the experiences the police had.
"We don't hold her responsible, the same as we wouldn't blame a rabid dog for biting someone. She is ill and to a large degree, not responsible for her actions. But her mental disorder should have been recognised much earlier."
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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