A WEST Cumbrian man who was initially charged with attempted murder after he stabbed a stranger in the street has been jailed.

Lee Walker, 33, who was drunk, became violent after going to Cleator Moor to visit his girlfriend.

After verbally abusing one of her neighbours, he lay in wait for the man and his friend, intent on getting revenge because one of them fought back when Walker tried to assault him. He stabbed the man's friend without warning.  

Doctors told the victim he would have died had the knife used by Walker been half an inch longer, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Walker, of Seven Acres, Parton, pleaded guilty to intentionally wounding the man he stabbed - a charge accepted by the prosecution as an acceptable alternative to the  attempted murder allegation.

He also admitted two counts of possessing offensive weapons in a public place without good reason and assaulting an emergency worker, a police officer.  Prosecutor Tim Evans described the unprovoked attack. 

Walker had been sitting outside a house William Morris Avenue at around 6pm on January 27 when one of his girlfriend’s neighbours arrived home with a friend after visiting somebody in hospital.

The two men – Alex Fitzgerald and John Redmond, neither of whom were known to Walker – parked their vehicle on the street and walked towards Mr Fitzgerald’s home nearby. Almost immediately, the defendant, clearly intoxicated, began talking “gibberish.”

He yelled at the men, who tried to ignore him.

As they walked away, Walker ran towards them and swung a punch at Mr Fitzgerald but he missed. Defending himself, the intended victim punched back, making Walker fall to the ground. After this, the defendant went back to the house he was visiting.

But five to ten minutes later, a neighbour called Mr Fitzgerald, saying that Walker was outside again, attempting to smash his car windows.

As a result, the two men went back outside to investigate.

“Once they were outside, the defendant jumped from an alleyway that was next to the front door and Mr Fitzgerald described what he thought was a single punch connecting with the right lower side of Mr Redmond’s body.

“It wasn’t a punch; he’d been stabbed.”

Mr Fitzgerald had to then wrestle with the defendant, who had dropped the knife, and he heard his friend shout that he had been stabbed. Getting away from Walker, he helped Mr Redmond back into his house. Walker continued to be aggressive, returning to the street a second time with two knives.

“He stood at his front door, brandishing both knives,” said Mr Evans. Police had to taser him to get him under control. At the police station, he later assaulted a police officer as he barged past her while trying to escape.

Mr Redmond spent two days in hospital with internal bleeding.

Mr Evans said: “A doctor told him that if the blade had been half an inch longer, it would have inflicted a fatal wound. The stab pierced muscle but it did not get through to the main artery of his heart."

Mr Redmond suffered flashbacks, seeing the blood.

There had been occasions when he had woken in the night screaming, waking his girlfriend. “It’s had a massive impact on him socially and he doesn’t like to leave the house. His girlfriend was scared she was going to lose him.

“I don’t feel like I’m the same person,” added Mr Redmond.

Mr Fitzgerald was also affected, wary of opening his front door and he was constantly looking over his shoulder. He no longer wanted to live at the same address because of what had happened.

The court heard that the defendant had 71 previous offences on his record, many of them involving violence, dating back to when he was 14. There were also weapons offences.

Brendan Burke, mitigating, said Walker had “longstanding” emotional instability. “He has no memory of this event,” said the barrister.

Jailing Walker for seven years and eight months, Judge Nicholas Barker told the defendant: “You didn’t know either of these two men. You had had nothing to do with them.

"You were clearly intoxicated and suffering from mental health difficulties… This was a highly dangerous act by you.”

On the day of the attack, Walker’s behaviour was antisocial and nonsensical, and he verbally abused the two men, despite them having done nothing to him. It was Walker’s clear intention to stab the victim.

Even after he did this, his “wild and frantic behaviour” continued, said the judge.

There was evidence of premeditation, probably linked to a desire for revenge following the earlier encounter. Walker also later brandished two knives in the street and assaulted a police officer.

Judge Barker noted the victim was left with PTSD and he cited also the defendant’s long record for violent offending and weapon possession.  “Again and again, you have returned to your disorderly, violent and unpredictable behaviour,” said the judge.

Rejecting a psychiatrist’s finding that Walker did not pose a “significant risk” of further serious offending, the judge ruled that the defendant is a dangerous offender. His post release licence period - making him liable to prison recall - was extended by three years.

Walker must serve two thirds of the 92-month jail term imposed. Judge Barker also imposed indefinite restraining orders, banning any contact with either Mr Redmond or Mr Fitzgerald.

The defendant showed no emotion,  simply commenting "Yep", as he left the prison video booth.

After the case concluded, Detective Constable Debi Gilmour said: “Walker carried out an unprovoked attack on the victims, which was fortunate to not have been more serious given the use of a knife.

“The use of a knife has the potential to end in tragedy, and there is no justification for taking a knife onto the street and the police and courts take such an act extremely seriously.”