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Christopher Smethurst repeatedly knifed the taxi driver after launching a ‘vicious, frenzied and entirely unprovoked attack’

A violent thug high on a cocktail of cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and whisky repeatedly knifed a taxi driver in a random attack after finding out his girlfriend had ‘slept with his neighbour’.

Christopher Smethurst, 32, screamed ‘die, die, die’ as he stabbed his victim in the face and body after he had been taken to an address in Moss Side.

The career criminal claimed he was upset as he had just found out his girlfriend had slept with his neighbour.

But a judge slammed the ‘vicious, frenzied and entirely unprovoked attack’ and jailed Smethhurst for 19 years and four months.

His victim, a 42-year-old driver working for Street Cars, had picked him up from outside Chico’s takeaway in Longsight and had appeared to be chatty and friendly during the journey to an address in Ruskin Avenue in Moss Side on November 11 last year.

The private hire driver told him the fare of £5.20, but there was no reply and when he turned around Smethurst lunged at him with a kitchen knife – which was five or six inches long – prosecutor David Temkin told Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court.

Smethurst shouted ‘die, die, die’ as he repeatedly stabbed his victim in the neck.

The taxi driver tried in vain to wrestle the knife from his attacker, suffering more stab wounds to his hands, before Smethurst pulled at the driver’s seat-belt, pinning him against the back rest, and continued to knife his victim in the face.

The driver, who was bleeding heavily, managed to escape, but Smethurst got out and continued the sickening attack in the street.

The desperate cabbie ran barefoot down the street – after his shoes came off during the assault – knocking on doors and begging for help.

Eventually, one resident took him in and dialled 999 as Smethurst.

Police found blood all over the inside and on the outside of the car. The victim was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary where he was treated for ten serious stab wounds to his hands, arms, chest and head.

He was left with a fractured eye-socket and needed plastic surgery to repair the stab wounds and damage to nerves and tendons.

“I thought I was going to be killed,” the driver later told the police, describing how the attack had caused significant psychological and physical damage.

Smethurst was arrested ten days later in Crewe where he had intended to rob shop with a toy gun he had spray-painted black.

Hand-written notes were found in his bag one of which read: “Nothing to lose anymore. Empty the cash in the bag. I have a 9mm Glock.”

His DNA was found in a bag which he had left at the takeaway in Longsight which, together with CCTV and evidence from the driver, linked him to the assault.

Smethurst was said to have a series of criminal convictions, including one for battery.

Jonathan Turner, defending, said his client had expressed ‘genuine remorse’ in letters he had sent both to the judge and his victim.

The barrister said his client ‘had no idea’ why he had launched the attack, but said it had followed an argument he had had with his girlfriend, in which he discovered she had ‘slept with a neighbour’.

The defendant had consumed ‘a large quantity of drink and drugs’ and had ‘simply lost his mind’, said Mr Turner.

“He knows that is absolutely no excuse for the way he behaved that day,” he added.

Judge John Potter told Smethurst he was considered so dangerous he must serve a minimum two-thirds of the 19 years and four months jail sentence.

Smethurst, of no fixed abode, but originally from Crewe, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing an imitation firearm.

Manchester Evening News

Throat cut attacker David Lawler.

Throat cut attacker David Lawler.

A GATECRASHER who seized a party goer in a headlock and slashed his throat with a Stanley knife has been sentenced to a ten year extended prison sentence.

David Lawler, who was branded dangerous and unstable, must serve a seven and a half year jail term before completing two and a half years on closely supervised licence.

He was convicted by a jury of cutting Benjamin Hanslip right across the front of his throat in an unprovoked attack that left the young man with a 12cm gash needing 12 stitches.

Lawler, 31, of Mallard Court, Lower Grange, Bradford, had a troubling history of violence, with convictions for possession of a bladed article, robbery, assault and violent disorder, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday.

The Recorder of Bradford, Judge Roger Thomas QC, ruled that he posed a serious risk to the public after hearing he suffered from depression, anxiety and panic attacks, aggravated by excessive drinking.

Prosecutor David Hall said Lawler turned up uninvited at a flat in Crag Road, Windhill, Shipley, late on September 1, 2012.

He was drinking lager at 2am when he suddenly sprang at Mr Hanslip, grabbed him round the neck and cut his throat with a Stanley knife he seized from a nearby shelf.

Lawler was arrested after he was traced by DNA evidence he left on a lager can.

He denied the offence but was found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Since the attack, Lawler had served a 13 month jail sentence for violent disorder at an English Defence League demonstration.

He was banned from any EDL gathering after joining with five other men in “sustained, unprovoked racist violence”.

Lawler’s string of convictions began with possession of a butterfly knife when he was a youth.

In 2001, he was locked up for robbery and in 2005 he was cautioned by the police for making a threat to kill his partner.

Judge Thomas said it was “extraordinary” he was let off so lightly for arming himself with a knife while in drink while his partner locked herself in the bedroom.

Lawler’s barrister, Austin Newman, said he was ashamed of what he had done to Mr Hanslip.

“It may be fortuitous but the injury was not the most serious example of its type. So far as we know, no damage was done to the underlying structures to the throat or neck. The victim made a relatively quick and good recovery,” Mr Newman said.

Judge Thomas told Lawler: “You could so easily have killed Benjamin Hanslip. You caused him a superficial wound but what you did was draw a blade right across the front of his throat. It was a very nasty wound indeed on any view of it.”

There was “no rhyme or reason whatsoever” for the attack.

After the case, Detective Constable Paul Maxwell, of Bradford District CID, said: “Lawler’s actions were totally unprovoked and caused his victim to lose a lot of blood. We hope the sentence passed down today will send out a warning to others that violent crime will not be tolerated in West Yorkshire.”

Telegraph & Argus

You can find the report of his previous conviction here