THIS TIME last year a 'paranoid' cocaine addict who carried out a ‘frenzied’ knife attack on his ‘friend’ was convicted of attempted murder as ugly scenes erupted outside the court.

The Verdict

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.

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 Attack

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 2018.

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.

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.

The Sentence

The then 32-year was jailed for 18 years with an extended licence period of five years (total sentence 23 years) at Worcester Crown Court for the ferocious attack.

The judge ruled that Smith, who has a history of violence, was dangerous, especially when under the influence of drugs. Though the judge did not impose a life sentence he deemed an extended sentence necessary to protect the public.

Smith must serve at least two thirds of the 18 year prison sentence before the Parole Board consider whether it is safe to release him and under what terms.

Even when Mr Gillott begged for his life Smith did not break off the attack and only did so after the knife broke and the victim managed to smash his own kitchen window with a cup-holder and call for help.

Smith had become paranoid that Mr Gillott and Mr Gillott's friend had 'hacked' his computer.

It was a suspicion for which there was never any evidence and 'no justification'. The trial heard that Smith had been behaving oddly in the days before the attack and became paranoid due to the use of cocaine. However, a psychiatrist could find no evidence mental illness had proved a significant factor in the attack.

Miss Wade said: "We would describe it as a ferocious and sustained attack using two weapons, a knife and an electric heater, to repeatedly strike him, causing multiple injuries."

Smith has 31 convictions for 59 offences including possession of a knife in public, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, affray, battery, assaulting a police officer, stalking, possession with intent to supply cannabis, public order and motoring offences.

Judge Nicholas Cole said: "This was a frenzied attack on a man who had been your friend.

"He genuinely and understandably in the circumstances thought he was going to die."

He added: "Without the prompt and excellent surgical intervention it's likely death would have ensued."

Smith was told mitigating factors included his guilty plea to wounding and 'the remorse you have expressed'.