Boy 'Slasher' guilty of terror knife attacks

Last updated at 16:10 05 August 2004

A teenager nicknamed "Slasher" has been convicted of two terrifying knife attacks - one on a woman jogger in a park.

Teacher Monica Watts, 39, said she thought she would die after the attack in Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, north London, in December last year.

She was saved after being given medical treatment by a woman doctor who was pushing a pram through the park.

Her fifteen-year-old attacker was being electronically tagged at the time and had a reputation for using knives, the Old Bailey was told.

The youth is due to be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on September 10. He was convicted of the attacks earlier, but a court order banned reporting until today. He still cannot be named because of his age.

He had been excluded from school and had been looking up murder statistics on the internet at a local library where he was being supervised by a tutor, just before the attack on Miss Watts.

He shouted "yes!" after spotting that his local east London borough had the highest murder rate.

But this evidence was excluded from his Old Bailey trial in April because the judge said it could be prejudicial.

'Gratuitous violence'

Detectives at first linked the attack with the murder of artist Margaret Muller who was stabbed to death whilst jogging in Victoria Park, less than two miles away.

He was later eliminated after it was found that "Slasher" had been in custody at the time.

But detectives are still left wondering if the attack on Miss Watts was a "copy cat" crime.

Detective Chief Inspector Ron Scott, the man leading both inquiries, said: "They were both acts of gratuitous violence."

"Slasher", now 16, who lived near the park, was cleared of attempting to murder Miss Watts but was found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

'I will get you'

Miss Watts had decided to jog in the park after

finishing work at a primary school. She noticed someone standing still like a statue under a willow tree.

After she went past him, he said: "Hello jogging princess. I will get you on your next lap."

Sally O'Neill QC, prosecuting, said: "She was panicking, petrified. She decided to confront him. As she got up to him, she thought she was punched on the left side of her stomach - which in fact was the upward thrust of a large knife.

"He grabbed her and tried to kick her several times in the stomach area. He kicked her quite deliberately, moving backwards each time. She decided to make a run for it.

"As she was running as fast as she could, she realised she was bleeding to the stomach and had been cut.

"She heard him running after her for a short while shouting 'I am going to get you next time'."

Ms Watts ran towards a woman with two babies, one a seven-week-old strapped to her front.

The woman was Anne Soloman, a doctor on maternity leave. She managed to stem the blood until the ambulance arrived.

"That woman may have save Monica Watts' life," said Miss O'Neill.

She said the youth had told a friend about the stabbing the next day and had asked him to take his jacket and rucksack containing the knife.

He told the friend Ms Watts had started to beat him and "did what had to do - stab her".

Miss Watts, who gave evidence from behind a screen, told the court: "I was absolutely shocked. I had been stabbed.

"I remember clutching my side trying to hold the blood in. I was embarrassed, I was shocked, I was scared. It was pretty terrifying."

Henry Blaxland QC, defending, said there was no evidence that he had tried to kill Miss Watts or tried to stab her again.

'I felt I was going to die'

In a second trial at the Old Bailey, he was cleared of wounding a 17-year-old youth with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, but convicted of unlawfully wounding him.

His victim, Curtis Byfield, now 18, told the court he was stabbed in the chest by "Slasher" on September 17, last year. "Slasher" had denied wounding.

Mr Byfield, who had been a friend of "Slasher" before they fell out, said: "He took out a knife. He just attacked me with it.

"It was coming down towards me and hit my chest.

"I think he laughed. I think he smiled. I felt very scary and I felt I was going to die."

After he collapsed on the floor, the youth returned and tried to stab him in the head, he said.

"I forgot about the pain in the chest. I don't know where I got the strength from. I was kicking."

The court was told Mr Byfield was taken to hospital with a collapsed lung.

He narrowly missed death as the wound was only a centimetre or so away from the heart.

"Slasher" admitted two offences of robbery committed in Stevenage, Herts, after the attack on Miss Watts, but before being charged.

The court was told "Slasher" had been in and out of the courts since the age of 13. He was now 16.

He had a previous conviction for causing grievous bodily harm and was tagged as part of his sentence for assault and battery by a juvenile

court in October last year.