A WOULD-BE killer responsible for a frenzied knife attack on his girlfriend in Carlisle was prosecuted previously for carrying a machete.

Seven years before he tried to murder Kerry Wilson, police found 39-year-old Matthew Ryan on a Carlisle street with a machete, when he told officers he planned to "hurt" the first person he met.

The chilling revelation emerged at the city’s crown court as a judge jailed Ryan for 22 years, stipulating he must serve a minimum of 15 years.

The court heard a disturbing account of how Ms Wilson, who was 52 when Ryan attacked her on December 17 last year, suffered life-changing injuries as he pursued and then repeatedly stabbed her.

The violence was completely unprovoked. Ms Wilson survived only thanks to a life-saving operation by a team of surgeons.

In the weeks leading up to the violence, the court heard, Ryan was using illicit drugs and his behaviour became increasingly erratic and aggressive.

The victim’s family were becoming concerned for her safety, with their fears heightened when Ryan told a family member he would stab Ms Wilson if they ever got into an argument.

Prosecutor Brendan Burke outlined what happened on the day of the attack outside the victim’s home in Ellesmere Way, Morton.

Earlier that day, Ms Wilson and Ryan had travelled to Newcastle to watch a football match with members of his family. She intended to scatter the ashes of her late former partner at St James’ Park because he had been a Newcastle United fan.

At the time, Ryan and Ms Wilson had been in a relationship for a year, though they had known each other for a decade. While in Newcastle, Ryan’s brother, worried that the defendant was drinking heavily, suggested that he should not do so.

They then argued and Ryan stormed off.

During the return journey to Carlisle along the A69, the court heard, Ryan – despite having taken alcohol, amphetamine and ‘spice’ – insisted on driving, doing so dangerously. He was also aggressive towards Ms Wilson.

At one point, said Mr Burke, Ryan deliberately swerved towards oncoming cars, telling Ms Wilson: “If you want to be scared of dying, you’ll know about it.”

She pleaded with him to drive sensibly but to no avail.

At one point, Ms Wilson was in such fear that she removed her seat belt and crouched in the car's passenger footwell; she even opened the car door as she briefly considered jumping out.

Another motorist was so alarmed by the erratic manner of his driving that she dialled 999, telling the police control room: “‘Oh my God - he’s going to kill somebody’.

After arriving at Ms Wilson's Ellesmere Way flat in Carlisle, Ryan continued to be aggresse. At 3pm, when Ms Wilson made him a cup of tea as a "peace offering", his reaction was to pour it over her head.

“By now she was very frightened at what he might do,” said Mr Burke.

“She was right to be. The defendant picked up a large kitchen knife and told her that he would stab her. She knew he was being serious and so grabbed her jacket and made a run for it." She fled outside as Ryan pursued her, a large knife in his hand.

“She ran down the pathway, and across the road chased by the defendant with the knife  in his hand. As she ran down the pathway and across the road the defendant lashed out at her in a stabbing motion."

“It’s not clear whether he succeeded in stabbing her at this point. However, as she reached the kerb on the opposite side of the road she stumbled and fell to the ground. She was now completely defenceless.”

CCTV images showed Ryan stabbing Ms Wilson 11 times.

As she crumpled, bleeding heavily, he walked back into her flat to collect the car keys before returning to look at her, lighting a cigarette and smoking calmly. He then drove away, briefly opening the car window as she shouted something towards her.

He made no attempt to help Ms Wilson, who lay next to a wall, gravely injured, in pain and bleeding heavily, said Mr Burke.

She was helped initially by neighbours and paramedics. Airlifted to  the Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle, she underwent emergency surgery to repair a major blood vessel.

A neighbour who witnessed the attack later said: “The thing I can’t get out of my head was the frown on his face and the evilness. He had no mercy; he didn’t stop. He just kept looking at her and carrying on and she was terrified.

"She was frightened-  you could see she was frightened."

In a victim impact statement, Ms Wilson spoke of how her life had been turned upside down by the attack, which led to her losing a kidney and left her with multiple medical complications, including scarring, limited mobility and trauma.

She suffers nightmares and struggles to sleep.

“Given what she is suffering now,” said Mr Burke, “she said that she had wished that he had succeeded in killing her.” While in hospital, such was her distress and pain that she considered jumping out of a window.

She was now slowly trying to rebuild her life, helped by her daughter, who has given up her job to support and care for her mother.

Still traumatised by what happened, her memories of the attack could be triggered at times by seemingly innocuous things, such as TV programmes featuring weapons, the images taking her mind back to December 17.

But Ms Wilson  said she also wanted Ryan to know that, in spite of the suffering he has caused her, she will keep fighting to recover and will not let him beat her. “She’s determined to get better,” said Mr Burke.

The victim had said she was certain Ryan's violence was not linked to jealousy about her former partner and the plan to scatter his ashes. She blamed it on his drug abuse and her decision to end the relationship because of his bad behaviour.

Kim Whittlestsone, defending, said that Ryan had shown genuine remorse and insight into his offending. Diagnosed with personality disorder, he was now cooperating with medical practitioners.

After his violence, he had taken an overdose.

Judge Nicholas Barker said was remarkable that the victim, who was in court for the sentencing, had survived Ryan’s attack. He quoted a female neighbour who saw what happened and later helped the victim.

The woman said: “I was terrified because I knew that his was so horrific. I was frightened that she was dead. It was like watching something on TV.”

It was important to note that the defendant had picked up the knife and followed Ms Wilson into the street to carry out the attack. This had shown his “murderous intent” to kill his partner, said the judge.

Describing the moments of the attack, the judge told Ryan: “The video of your assault on Kerry Wilson is truly chilling. It shows a murderous and brutal attack on a defenceless woman.

“Your conduct was persistent and determined as you repeatedly thrust the knife at her.

“She backed away but had nowhere to go, nowhere to escape to from this wicked attack. You struck her no less than 11 times with the knife, many of those as she was laid on the ground.”

Despite her being at risk of dying, Ryan simply drove away.

Judge Barker agreed with a probation and psychiatric assessment that Ryan, who showed no emotion as he was sentenced, poses a danger to the public.

When he was arrested several hours later, Ryan, of East Norfolk Street, Denton Holme, Carlisle, asked the police: “How is she?

“Is she in a bad way? She’s not going to die is she?’  He later told officers: ”I can’t be doing jail…will it be jail or will I be sectioned?”

The court heard that in 2015 he was given a suspended sentence and a mental health treatment requirement for the machete offence. Ten years earlier than that he had threatened another partner with a hammer.

Jailing Ryan for 22 years, Judge Barker said the defendant will have to serve a minimum term of 15 years before he will be eligible to apply for parole. Even after he is released, he will remain on licence for life.  

At no point during the hearing did Ryan show any emotion. He simply sat in silence, staring at the judge and barristers, and occasionally glancing towards the public gallery.

As he was led away from the dock, a relative of the victim in the public gallery shouted the word: “Scumbag.”

After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Patrick McDonnell said “The evidence gathered showed that Ryan subjected his victim to an horrific assault, which could have only been with the intention to cause her death.

"His calm and calculated actions after the offence showed even after the attack there was no regard for the victim.

“The victim suffered major stab wounds to her stomach and back requiring surgery, these injuries meant she was lucky to survive the incident and only did so with the skills of NHS staff and her own determination.

"The victim has sadly been left with long term health complications from the incident which she continues to battle. This battle has also had a significant impact on her close family supporting her through this testing time.  

“The use a knife as a weapon is a particularly aggravating feature in this case, the offender Ryan was bigger and stronger than his victim.

“The police and the criminal justice system as a whole will always seek to tackle such offending extremely rigorously and this is reflected in the sentence handed down today at court."