Hunting knife attacker jailed for 12 years

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AN attacker armed with a large “lethal” hunting knife repeatedly sliced into a defenceless man leaving him terrified for his life and in agony.

Victim James Ratcliffe needed more than 100 stitches after suffering nine serious knife wounds and he has been left devastated with disfiguring and life-changing injuries.

I genuinely believe I am lucky to be alive, I feel he wanted to kill me

Victim James Ratcliffe

In a statement the 25-year-old, who was attacked after slipping over while running away from Alexander Tattersall, said he felt like he had been ‘butchered’.

“I genuinely believe I am lucky to be alive, I feel he wanted to kill me,” he said.

Although Tattersall, also 25, has no previous convictions for violence, a judge ruled that he is dangerous and poses a significant risk of serious harm to the public and imposed a 12-year jail term with an extended licence of four years.

He told the defendant that he must serve eight years before he can apply for parole and would only be released when they consider it safe to do so. Tattersall, of Elizabeth Street, Leigh, angrily punched the front of the dock and swore as he was led to the cells.

Judge David Aubrey, QC, told him: “You perpetrated a savage, ferocious and gruesome attack upon your victim. At the time of the attack you had a lethal weapon and you used that lethal weapon on numerous occasions on different parts of your victim’s body.”

He pointed out that the hunting knife, also described as a machete, was 18 inches long with a 12 inch blade and police who called at Tattersall’s home three weeks earlier with a drugs search warrant saw the weapon in his home.

Mr Ratcliffe, a railway engineering worker, has been left with long scars to his face, head, hands and legs and lost the top of his thumb which was also badly fractured.

He also suffered psychologically with flashbacks and has lost his confidence because of the scarring to his face and hands.

Judge Aubrey said that it did not matter why Mr Ratcliffe and two friends had called round at Tattersall’s home about 3.30am on June 24 this year because he chased him down the alley behind his home armed with the weapon.

“He was at your mercy and you showed him none. Time after time you inflicted those injuries upon him.”

He pointed out that given the ferocity of the attack the victim was fortunate he did not lose his life.

Tattersall had denied a charge of attempted murder which was accepted after he admitted an offence of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He was in breach of a suspended sentence for harassment at the time.

Neville Biddle, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that on the evening of June 23 the victim and two friends, who had been drinking, went to Tattersall’s home to get cocaine.

He told them to go away but a short time later met up with them by the canal and sold them a £10 wrap of the drug.

About 3.30 am they went back for more cocaine but Tattersall came to the door with the knife and they fled.

But running along the nearby alleyway Mr Ratcliffe slipped over and as he lay face down he fell a “massive” blow to the crown of his head and screamed in pain.

Mr Ratcliffe told how he rolled over to see what was happening and Tattersall “began chopping down hard towards my head with the machete.”

He then felt excruciating pain as the weapon sliced into his cheek and as he was unable to get up and run away he curled up into a ball and tried to protect his head an face with his hands but Tattersall continued to rain agonising blows down on him chopping at his hands and legs.

His ordeal only ended when Tattersall’s girlfriend arrived on the scene and told him to stop, said Mr Biddle.

The victim’s cries alerted a neighbour and he was taken away to hospital and Tattersall was arrested the next day at Stafford services on the M6.

The court heard that his nine wounds included a ten centimetre laceration to the back of his head, which had partly penetrated his skull, a five centimetre laceration to his cheek, a 30 centimetre cut to his left leg and a 25 centimetre one to his other leg.

He had to undergo operations at Wigan Infirmary and Wythenshawe Hospital and has been left with scars to his hands was well as his head, face and legs. He is also still in constant pain from one of the leg injuries, faces further investigations and possible surgery and has been unable to return to work yet.

“He had no reason to attack me so viciously that night,” said Mr Ratcliffe.

Steven Swift, defending, said that Tattersall denied supplying drugs and said that there was animosity between the two men and the trio had come round “to sort things out”.