Wednesday, August 29, 2012
A 15-year-old girl who was stabbed in the chest, abdomen and wrist during a night-time robbery after being followed into an alleyway in Norwich was spared more serious injury by a Westlife programme, a court has heard.
Stephen Williams, 33, of Mousehold Street, Norwich, appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday after pleading guilty to an offence of robbery at a previous hearing.
Ben Brighouse, prosecuting, said the victim who cannot be named for legal reasons, and another girl, 20, had been to a concert at the O2 in London on May 12 and had arrived back in Norwich at about 2.20am on May 13.
He said they had befriended two males on the coach who walked some of the way home with them but they parted company at the Norwich Playhouse. The girls then began to walk home “unaware that they were being followed”.
Mr Brighouse said the girls later walked down an alleyway, as they had many times before, when they heard a male (Williams) shout “give me all your bags”.
Mr Brighouse said: “They saw him running at them at speed. He was holding a large kitchen knife.”
The court heard how the teenage victim was trying to give her bag to Williams, who had left home with a large kitchen knife tucked up his sleeve, but was finding it difficult to get it off her shoulder.
She was stabbed to the body about five to six times with Williams still waving the knife around over her even after she had fallen to the floor.
Mr Brighouse said a white carrier bag containing a Westlife book, which was between the victim and Williams, was later found to have three holes in it from the knife.
After getting the shoulder bag, which contained a bottle of coke and make-up, Williams ran off.
The teenage victim was later rushed to hospital where she was found to have a 5cm wound to the right side of her chest to the depth of her rib, a 5cm incision to the right side of her abdomen above the liver and a 3cm by 7cm wound to the right wrist.
Williams was interviewed on three occasions and initially denied any involvement claiming he would “never stoop that low” although said he had been in the area at the time.
However after being picked out by one of the girls at an identity parade Williams made a confession by the time of his third interview.
He said he had taken heroin with others during the day and had got the knife, which was between eight and nine inches long from his kitchen. He put it up the arm of his jacket but could not give a detailed reason as to why he took the knife with him.
He had been eating fast food on a park bench when he saw the four people, including the two females, walk past and decided to follow the girls into an alleyway and said “give me your bags”. He said he did not even realise they were females.
Mr Brighouse added both girls were “slight” and “petite” and exhibited a “great deal of courage” in terms of making their statements and taking part in the identification parade which happened so soon after the incident.
Katherine Moore, for Williams, said clearly it was a serious matter as a result of which Williams would lose his liberty.
But she said Williams, who pleaded guilty to robbery, was not a “habitual knife carrier” and had been remorseful which had been evidenced by his admissions.
She said he suffers from a degenerative condition which causes significant pain and loss of mobility and has resulted in anxiety and depression and led to him taking street drugs which has underpinned his “criminality to date”.
Williams was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison with an extension of three years to the period he must remain on licence.
Sentencing Williams Recorder Alexander Milne, QC, referred to the offence as being the “top category of street robbery” and said in terms of the teenage victim, the “fact that no major organ, artery or tendon were damaged was a matter purely of good luck, nothing more than that”.
Williams also pleaded not guilty to possession of an offensive weapon with the matter ordered to lie on file.
Speaking after the case, investigating officer Detective Constable Graham Finney, from Norwich CID, welcomed the sentence issued to Williams.
He said: “This was an extremely traumatic experience for the young teenage victim who only hours before had been enjoying a pop concert in London.
“Williams committed this offence with no concern for his victim. The fact he has pleaded guilty demonstrates the strength of the prosecution case against him and also means the victim will not be forced to relive the horror of the attack giving evidence in a trial.”
Det Con Finney, who commended the bravery of the girls, added the victim had “Westlife to thank” for the fact she was not more seriously hurt in the offence which he described as being extremely rare.
He said: “The victim’s injuries could have been a lot worse had she not instinctively protected herself using the concert programme. One shudders to think what would’ve happened if that hadn’t been between her and the knife. She was very lucky.”
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