A ‘PARANOID’ drug addict who carried out a ‘frenzied’ knife attack on his ‘friend’ has been convicted of attempted murder as ugly scenes erupted outside court.

Richard Smith was unanimously convicted of attempted murder at Worcester Crown Court, a verdict met at first with silence by his family in the public gallery. Crying could be heard from the family as the defendant stared straight ahead defiantly with his arms folded.

Outside the court the defendant’s mother screamed and swore at the police, including at the officer in the case, DC Joshua Hunt.

DS Luke Papps and other officers attempted to calm the situation and persuade the family to leave the court precincts.

The jury was held back from leaving the court building as the family remained on the pavement near the court entrance while two other officers attended from Worcester Police Station.

Smith’s mother screamed ‘arrest me!’, told officers ‘you destroy families!’ and ‘you got what you wanted!’ In court she could be heard saying she was ‘heartbroken’.

The 32-year-old of North Malvern Road, Malvern, had denied attempted murder but admitted wounding with intent after he bludgeoned his former friend, James Gillott, over the head with a metal storage heater before stabbing him 24 times in the head, face, neck, back and hands during the attack in the victim’s groundfloor flat on November 13 last year.

At one point he pushed the heater down into his victim’s throat as Mr Gillott begged for his life, telling Smith ‘I have a daughter’ but that did not stop him.

The attack began in the bedroom and continued in the hallway and the kitchen, only coming to an end when the knife snapped and the victim managed to smash his own kitchen window with a cup holder and call for help.

The victim’s ear was left hanging off and had to be partially amputated. The stab wounds narrowly missed vital blood vessels including the carotid artery and jugular vein. He said in the witness box he lost two thirds of his blood. As a result Mr Gillott required an urgent blood transfusion at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and had to have a nerve in his face and his salivary gland repaired.

The flat was left spattered with blood and harrowing police body worn footage showed the victim holding a blood-stained towel to his severed ear as he told police: “I thought he was my mate and he tried to murder me!”

After the attack Smith fled, admitting he thought Mr Gillott was dead and made no attempt to call an ambulance, dumping his bloody jogging bottoms in the washing basket, hidden under other clothes.

He was arrested later that evening when firearms officers surrounded his parents’s home which was next door to the victim’s flat.

Smith claimed he had only intended to seriously harm his victim, not kill him but the jury did not believe him.

The victim and his friend, Jack Spacie, both said that Smith had accused them of being ‘hackers’ and of hacking his computer but the prosecution attributed this to the defendant’s paranoia caused by his drug abuse.

The case was prosecuted by Rebecca Wade and Smith was represented throughout by Graham Henson.

Judge Nicholas Cole ordered the case to be adjourned so a psychiatric report could be prepared to address the issue of dangerousness.

He said: “Plainly the court will have to consider the provisions of section 226A for an extended sentence if satisfied that the dangerousness criteria are met.”

If dangerousness is found, judges have the power to impose extended sentences.

A mental disorder where identified can also lower a defendant’s culpability and have a bearing on sentence the judge said.

Miss Wade said Smith had a number of previous convictions when he was a juvenile including possession of a bladed article which had not been put before the jury.

Miss Wade said she would obtain an update on the long term effect of the victim’s injuries.

She said the judge may have noticed the victim shaking in the witness box, the result of nerve damage sustained during the attack which the victim estimated lasted 20 minutes.

Smith was remanded in custody until the scheduled sentencing hearing at Hereford Crown Court on Wednesday, July 17.

“I hope that today’s verdict provides some element of closure to the victim, who now continues on his road to recovery. I would personally like to thank the victim for their bravery in giving evidence in the case and all the officers and partners that have supported him throughout. I would also like to express my gratitude to all involved for their professionalism and commitment throughout this complex investigation.”