A HARDENED criminal with a cocaine addiction has been convicted of a brutal axe and knife attack on a couple at their Workington home.

Victims Lee Iceton and his partner Colleen McCrickard were left with multiple stab wounds after the terrifying late-night attack, during which Tony Joynes, 41, was heard yelling that he had been sent to get them by a Liverpool drugs gang.

Joynes arrived at their home dressed entirely in black, his face hidden under a hood.

At Carlisle Crown Court, he claimed that violence which erupted outside the couple’s Coniston Drive home in Workington on August 21 last year was instigated by his victims – despite him going to their home at midnight while armed, disguised, and wearing latex gloves.

It took the jury less than three hours to convict him of intentionally causing Mr Iceton grievous bodily harm and of intentionally wounding Miss McCrickard.

During the week-long trial, Joynes accepted he has a long criminal history, but he claimed that he always pleaded guilty to offences he had committed. He said that he had gone that night to Coniston Drive so he could buy cocaine from Mr Iceton.

But Mr Iceton said that was a lie because he had nothing to do with the illicit drugs trade. Ultimately, the jury rejected what Joynes said about the night’s violent events.

As the jury foreman announced the unanimous guilty verdicts, Joynes showed no emotion.

During his evidence, Joynes repeatedly told the court that he had been under threat from Liverpool drug barons who wanted to shoot him – and hurt anybody who was associated with him, including his family.

He described himself as a “junkie” but said he was no “hard man.” Throughout the eight weeks he had been out of prison, he said, he carried weapons and disguised himself because of the threat he was facing from the Liverpool dealers.

“At the end of the day, my life was in danger, so what do you want me to do?” he asked prosecuting barrister Geoffrey Lowe.

He blamed the violence on Mr Iceton, claiming he had jumped him and he had panicked. Asked why he was wearing latex gloves, he claimed that he had cut his hand and did not want to stain his clothes. Of the attack itself, he said: “If I was going to hurt Lee Iceton, I would have smashed that thing straight in his face but I had no intention of hurting Lee Iceton.”

Joynes also spelled out a tragic summary of his life, saying: “I’m a criminal, I’m a drug addict, I was injected at 14 years old, so my life has been one catastrophe after another.

“You are going on about the same old stuff, trying to make me look like something I am not.”

He also said he never spoke to the police. “I’m a criminal: I don’t run to the police,” he said.

Judge Nicholas Barker told Joynes he will be sentenced on February 28 because he wanted the Probation Service to assess whether he poses a danger to the public. Responding to this, Joynes shouted: “I’m not bothered about reports.”

The judge replied: “You are not worried about them but I am. They are for my benefit. There will be reports prepared about you.”

In the meantime he remanded Joynes in custody.

Asking for those reports, the judge noted the defendant’s long criminal history, highlighting his past violence, including when he stabbed a pensioner with screwdriver during a burglary.

As he was led away, Joynes smiled and waved to two women and a man who were in the public gallery throughout his trial.

Trial was chilling insight into brutal world of cocaine addict

IT was a truly chilling insight into Cumbria's violent drugs underworld.

During a week of evidence at Carlisle Crown Court, a jury was given detailed descriptions of how Workington couple Lee Iceton and his partner Colleen McCrickard became casualties of the violence that so often swirls around illicit drugs.

Years ago Mr Iceton served time for being part of a drugs conspiracy, but since serving that sentence, he told the jury, he has rejected that world.

On August 21 last year, he and his partner had been enjoying a quiet night at home, relaxing with friends, chatting and watching TV.

It was an ordinary night. Then, just after midnight, there was a knock on the patio door. Pulling back the curtain, Mr Iceton saw somebody outside.

As he pulled open the patio door, he was immediately confronted by a man dressed all in black, his face hidden under a hooded top. Only his eyes were visible.

Gripped tightly in the man's hands was an axe – a terrifying weapon, with a crescent shaped blade and spike at the back.

As the stranger lunged, Lee Iceton acted instinctively, defending himself and grabbing the man's arm. Suddenly, he fell, snapping his ankle. But still he fought with the attacker. Hearing the commotion, and Mr Iceton's cries of "he's got an axe," Colleen McCrickard intervened.

She wrestled the stranger to the ground, but he continued lashing out. By now there was a knife in his hand.

Colleen somehow pulled the flick-knife out of his hand, tossing it away. She then pulled the hood from the man's head – revealing the face of Tony Joynes, a former friend of Mr Iceton's.

As the police arrived, the thug fled. Behind him he left a horrifying scene: Mr Iceton's ankle was badly broken, and both he and Colleen McCrickard had multiple stab wounds.

Carlisle Crown Court heard a detailed account of the events leading up to the late-night attack. A life-long criminal, Joynes was in jail when he first met Lee Iceton, who was himself jailed for drug offences in 2014.

The trial this week heard how Workington had been targeted by competing Liverpool drug gangs. Joynes had annoyed them.

Rumours spoke of a man called Souse Baz – described by Colleen McCrickard as a menace. In his evidence, Joynes was brutally honest about his past.

During the violent struggle, Joynes yelled: "The Scousers have sent me."

In his evidence, Joynes claimed he needed his axe and his flick-knife because those same Liverpool drug dealers were after him. Describing the violent struggle, he said: "I just remember being on the floor; I'm being choked; I'm being punched; a Buddha thing was whacked over my head...

"I thought I was getting thrown in a van, taken away to Merseyside, to Liverpool, to kill me."

The jury rejected that explanation. Yet Joynes was under threat from Liverpool drug dealers. Police had warned him dealers armed with firearms wanted to do him "significant" damage.

The court also heard disturbing details of the violence in Joynes' past. In 1999, he burgled the home of an elderly couple, tying up the man with telephone cord before stabbing the pensioner with a screwdriver.

An account was also given of a holiday in Blackpool, when Joynes was with Mr Iceton and his partner. The two men had become friends, but Joynes that night got high on spice, and smashed two beer glasses before trying to hit Mr Iceton in the face with them.

Challenged about the weapons he carried in August last year, Joynes said: "There are Scousers ready to kill me and my family."

Prosecutor Geoffrey Lower said: "You're a person prepared to use violence at a the drop of a hat." Joynes blamed his violence on his drug taking, saying: "I'm just me: I do the crime, I get caught, and then I throw my hands up."

Whatever the truth, the trial has revealed one indisputable fact: that the world of illicit drugs is brutal, violent and dangerous.