A heavy drinker who slashed his best friend’s throat with a kitchen knife and then stabbed him twice as he tried to flee has been jailed for 15 years.
Habitual criminal Steven Davis, whose record includes a staggering 114 previous convictions and 72 court appearances, avoided a life sentence because a judge at Preston Crown Court ruled he was not a ‘significant danger’ to the public.
Davis, of Farringdon Close, Preston, whose life was said to be “chaotic” due to alcohol abuse, was found guilty at an earlier hearing of the attempted murder of 43-year-old Patrick Bentley following a drinking session in the city.
The 34-year-old insisted he could not explain why he attacked his drinking pal.
Sentencing him, Recorder Anthony Russell QC said: “This was a spontaneous attempt to kill, without any provocation.
“Fortunately, others came to Mr Bentley’s aid and as a result of their actions and that of paramedics he was able to survive.
“He was fortunate because if it (the throat wound) had been any deeper it would have led to catastrophic bleeding and almost certainly death.
“I have considered whether I should impose a life sentence, but I have come to the conclusion that you don’t fit the criteria of dangerousness as defined by Parliament.”
The court heard Davis and Mr Bentley were at the flat in Farringdon Close after an evening spent drinking. Davis asked his friend to stand up to see how tall he was and then, without warning, he came up behind him and deliberately slashed his throat.
When the victim tried to get out of the flat by the front door he was stabbed twice by the defendant in the abdomen. A doctor who treated Mr Bentley said the neck wound only just missed slicing into a number of major blood vessels.
Mr Bentley had been left “very anxious and nervous around people, even close friends,” said Jeremy Grout-Smith, prosecuting. “He has become something of a recluse and he only really likes to go where there are other people around.”
Davis’s criminal record, said Mr Grout-Smith, contained a large number of offences, but only four of violence against a person, none of which had been serious. There were “numerous” offences involving drunkenness.
Sharon Watson, defending Davis, told the court the attack had not been a planned attempt to murder his friend.
“He is very sorry he has hurt his friend,” she said. “Alcohol was involved and it is plain to see that at 34 it is the chronic long-term abuse of alcohol which has wrecked his life so far.
“He simply doesn’t know that motivated him to do what he did and that extreme act of violence was completely out of character.”
Police today issued a picture of the victim’s injuries to highlight the severity of the crime.
DC Mike Riley of Lancashire police said: “I am pleased with the sentence passed which reflects the seriousness of this unprovoked attack.
“The victim is very lucky to have survived. Fortunately such cases are rare but I hope it sends a message that such cases are treated exceptionally seriously by the police and the courts.”