Inspector tells of taxi row nightmare

PUBLISHED: 15:33 06 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

A SUFFOLK police inspector has told how he feared for his life when he was stabbed 15 times with a knife after a night out with friends. Inspector Graham Underwood had been in Ipswich when he was attacked by dock worker Matthew Oakshott.

A SUFFOLK police inspector has today told how he feared for his life when he was stabbed 15 times with a knife after a night out with friends.

Inspector Graham Underwood had been in Ipswich when he was attacked by dock worker Matthew Oakshott.

Yesterday 25-year-old Oakshott, of Byron Road, Ipswich, was found guilty of wounding the off-duty policeman with intent to do him grievous bodily harm. He will be sentenced on July 26 and faces a prison sentence.

At his home off Tuddenham Road today, the 38-year-old policeman, who works as a control room inspector, relived his horrific ordeal giving a graphic account of the terrifying end to a rare night out with friends.

Mr Underwood said: "Imagine you are standing in the shower with the water dripping off your fingers.

"That was how much blood there was and I just could not stop it.

"I was shaking so much – I really thought that was it and I was going to die."

Mr Underwood said he had reached the front of the taxi queue in Lloyds Avenue on the night of January 26 when Oakshott walked up beside him and jumped in the front seat of the car with him, demanding to be taken home first.

He said: "I was very concerned when he got in with me as it is not something you expect.

"I have never had that sort of thing happening to me before.

"I don't make a habit of going out and it was the first time I had been out into town for years."

During the court hearing it was revealed that when the taxi dropped Mr Underwood off first in Tuddenham Road, Oakshott, an employee at the Port of Felixstowe, became angry and threatened to hit him.

The taxi then drove off with Oakshott's bag and £150 on the back seat.

Oakshott then turned on his victim, repeatedly hitting him.

Mr Underwood said: "He just kept hitting me so I got him in a headlock to try and protect myself in the hope that he would calm down.

"Maybe it was my police training that helped me do that but I just acted on instinct."

But far from calming down, Oakshott produced a short bladed DIY knife and stabbed Mr Underwood repeatedly in the head, neck and hands.

Until this week's court hearing, Mr Underwood had been unaware of what weapon was used to inflict his injuries.

He said: "The weapon had never been found and he had not said what it was until he gave evidence in court.

"It was quite a chilling moment when I heard what it was."

After enduring operations on his hands to repair severed tendons, Mr Underwood said he still suffers aches and pains today.

He has also been left without any feeling in the back of his head from where Oakshott stabbed him, severing the nerves.

Despite the injuries he has been left with, the father of two has been back at work since April and is getting on with his life with his 35-year-old wife Sue.

He said: "I don't bear him (Oakshott) any malice – he has had a huge affect on my life but I am just pleased that the justice system has dealt with it in the correct way.

"I still remember the attack and think what I could have done differently, I still remember the pain of the stitches and the pain after the operation.

"But I just want to put all that behind me now and get on with my life – I have no thoughts about the sentence at all, I am just pleased that they have the correct verdict.

"I feel very lucky to be alive."

A jury of five men and six women reached its verdict in little over an hour at Ipswich Crown Court, at the end of the case yesterday.

Judge John Holt said although defence counsel Christopher Kinch had asked for Oakshott to be sentenced straight away, he felt that a pre-sentence report would help him with the length of time he should imprison Oakshott, who was remanded in custody as bail was refused.

The court heard that Mr Underwood suffered 15 cuts and received 12 stitches and surgery on his hands.

Oakshott admitted unlawful wounding but denied the more serious charge of wounding with intent.

He told the court he had drunk around 15 pints of lager that night at the Falcon pub and could not remember the incident. He said he must have attacked Mr Underwood with the knife he used to cut straps at work, but the knife was never recovered.

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