THERE has been much noise in recent years about the rise of knife crime. Barely a day, certainly barely a week, goes by without news of a stabbing, usually involving young men and usually involving a big city.

However, 23 years ago one of the most horrific knife attacks ever in the West Midlands did not take place down a Birmingham back alley, but in the relatively quiet market town of Leominster in Herefordshire and was carried out not by some 'gangsta' hoodie, but by a teenage girl.

It left a young probationer police officer critically wounded with blood pouring from a hole in his back, while his attacker stood over him howling like a wolf.

In the early hours of August 17, 1995, PCs Ian Davenport and Craig Bradbury (who was still in his probationary period) were on patrol in Leominster town centre when they were sent to the nearby bus station, where there had been reports of shop windows being smashed.

What the officers did not know was that the criminal damage had been done to lure them to the area.

Having arrived at the terminus, the officers found a group of young people who, perhaps unusually, made no attempt to move off when they approached.

Among their number was a stocky 18-years-old local girl by the name of Samantha Powell. In the circles she moved, Powell was known as Psycho Sam.

As the two policemen spoke to the group, Powell quietly moved to one side and behind the officers. She then suddenly pulled out a knife, jumped on PC Bradbury’s back and plunged it deep between his shoulder blades with an overhead “hammer blow”.

When he fell to his knees, Powell pulled the weapon out and held it over the officer as she grabbed him around the neck, screaming like a wild animal.

PC Davenport was later to tell a jury at Worcester Crown Court: “She screamed like I have never heard a human being scream before. It was like a wild animal, a wolf. My impression was that she was going to attack PC Bradbury again, so I hit her with my torch as hard as I could on the side of the head. But she was very strong and didn’t fall over.”

The officer said he felt he was “fighting for his life” as Powell was wrestled to the ground and he received a stab wound himself to the thigh.

He added: ”PC Bradbury was wandering around screaming as if in a trance. He was soaked from his neck to his waist in blood, you could hardly see any blue on his shirt. I ripped his shirt open and saw a very large hole in his back.”

PC Bradbury, who was 24 years old,  spent eight days in hospital and needed considerable convalescence to overcome the effects of the attack, which left him with a collapsed lung among other injuries.

He was off work for five months, but eventually returned to the beat in Leominster.

He said: “I will probably remember what happened that night for a very long time. But not in a resentful way, more for the actions of my fellow officers, who undoubtedly saved my life.”

A senior officer later observed: “Considering the severity of the wound it was a near miracle Craig Bradbury survived.”

It appeared his attacker had launched the near fatal assault for no other reason than to earn “respect” among her friends.

Samantha Powell, who lived in Broad Street, Leominster, stood trial at Worcester Crown Court in July 1996, where she pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of PC Bradbury and wounding PC Davenport.

However she was convicted, given a life sentence with a minimum of 10 years and told by Judge Michael Mott: “You are an extremely dangerous young woman.”

Powell had been under medication to keep her calm during the proceedings and showed no emotion. She simply met the judge’s words with a long, cold stare.