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Judge rues knife crime ‘epidemic’ before jailing 22-year-old for stabbing

PUBLISHED: 18:05 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:10 24 October 2018

His Honour Judge Martyn Levett  Picture: GREGG BROWN

His Honour Judge Martyn Levett Picture: GREGG BROWN

A judge lamented levels of knife crime as approaching “epidemic proportions” before jailing a Suffolk father-of-two for stabbing another man outside a pub.

Daniel McDermott, of Sebert Road, Bury Saint Edmunds, was handed a nine-year sentence for stabbing another man in Haverhill in 2015  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYDaniel McDermott, of Sebert Road, Bury Saint Edmunds, was handed a nine-year sentence for stabbing another man in Haverhill in 2015 Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Daniel McDermott, of Sebert Road, Bury St Edmunds, stabbed Graham Sawyer in the stomach in Haverhill on April 25, 2015.

Now 22, he denied attacking Mr Sawyer with a knife – leaving him with life-threatening injures requiring two serious operations and resulting in permanent scars.

The former chef was sentenced to nine years by Judge Martyn Levett on Wednesday, after a jury convicted him of grievous bodily harm at Ipswich Crown Court.

McDermott told jurors he pushed Mr Sawyer, but was not carrying a knife and knew nothing about a stabbing until seeing the area cordoned off.

The court heard he was under the impression no further action would be taken until being summonsed to magistrates’ court.

He denied confessing the crime to a probation officer during an induction for a community sentence imposed for a previous public order offence.

McDermott said he tussled with Mr Sawyer in the High Street over a comment made by the 35-year-old, who then “walked away, holding his side”. But jurors concluded he stabbed Mr Sawyer, who had part of his bowel removed and risks abdominal adhesions, according to prosecutor Phillip Farr.

Jonathan Rosen, mitigating, said McDermott had “gone down the wrong path” from the age of 13 – getting into a cycle of relatively low-level offending.

“He was excluded from two schools but still gained a couple of qualifications and started a bricklaying course, which he couldn’t finish, before moving to Bury St Edmunds at 19 and working as a chef,” he said.

“He felt unsettled and unable to hold down the job for more than a year but found another job at an Italian restaurant in Cambridge for another year.”

Mr Rosen explained McDermott had moved into a new home with his partner and their baby son days before the trial began.

“It shows a level of maturity, perhaps not there when this defendant was 19,” he added.

Judge Martyn Levett said the criminal justice system had a responsibility to “confront, reduce and eradicate use of knives on the street” – a problem reaching “epidemic proportions,” he added.

“Prison is the only sentence I can pass,” he concluded before sending McDermott down.

•Before sentencing McDermott, Judge Martyn Levett said the case exemplified the words of Sir Igor Judge in R v Povey and others, 2008.

Quoting the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, now the Rt Hon Lord Judge, he said: “Every weapon carried about the streets, even if concealed from sight, even if not likely to be or intended to be used, and even if not used, represents a threat to public safety and public order.

“That is because even if concealed, even if carried only for bravado, or from some misguided sense that its use in possible self-defence might arise, it takes but a moment of irritation, drunkenness, anger, perceived insult or something utterly trivial, like a look, for the weapon to be produced.

“Then we have mayhem, and offences of the greatest possible seriousness follow, including murder, manslaughter, grievous bodily harm, wounding and assault.”

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