A SPATE of alleged knife attacks in Gloucestershire during the last year has prompted a tough warning from the county’s top judge.
People who use knives in crime can expect long jail terms – and those who arm themselves deliberately to attack people will receive sentences up to 12 years, says Judge Jamie Tabor QC.
He spoke out on a day when he and his fellow Gloucester Crown Court judge, William Hart, were dealing with three men who had used knives to rob or injure other people.
His hard-hitting comments also come in the wake of the fatal stabbing of hairdresser Hollie Gazzard in Gloucester last week and the deaths of two other knifing victims in the previous ten months – Martin Stokes and Neil Bennett.
“Knife crime has become a particular problem here in Gloucestershire,” said the judge.
“Westminster has recognised that the carrying of knives or bladed articles is highly dangerous so anyone breaking the law may receive a sentence of up to four years imprisonment.”
The judge said his court is all too often seeing crimes involving knives in a number of different ways.
Some people claim they are for their work – such as carpet fitting – or their hobby, such as fishing, he said.
“Such excuses carry very little weight. There is a particular responsibility upon those who lawfully have such articles to ensure they are only carried when the article is immediately required.”
It is a “lame excuse”, said the judge, for anyone to claim they have a knife for self defence.
“If found guilty of carrying such an article all defendants, whatever their excuse, will be sent to prison even if that defendant has never been in trouble before – unless there are quite exceptional reasons.”
The judge said anyone who produces and brandishes a knife will receive even tougher sentences.
“Defendants who produce a knife in this way are acting in an utterly reckless manner. They must bear the consequences of what happens thereafter.”
Judge Tabor said the criminal use of knives within the home and in domestic settings would also inevitably mean prison.
“The grabbing of such a weapon in a heated and volatile atmosphere is highly dangerous, particularly when alcohol has been consumed and the situation is such that it almost always means that a life is endangered once the weapon is taken up,” he said.
But the longest sentences will go to those who produce a knife intending to cause injury, he said.
“I have lost count of the number of times I have heard, both as a barrister and a judge, ‘I did not intend to seriously hurt or kill my victim’.
“Knives, when they have cut the skin, penetrate the body very easily. It is sheer chance whether or not a vital organ or artery is severed.
“Thus it is luck and luck alone as to whether the victim lives or dies. Those who produce knives in this way and cause serious injury can expect to go to prison for up to 12 years.
“It is the court’s responsibility to protect the public from knife carriers. It has every intention of doing so by using the full powers provided by Parliament.”