French baker gets life for stabbing girl, 14

Motiveless frenzied attack left victim with 20 wounds and long-term damage
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The Independent Online

A French trainee baker was jailed for life yesterday for a motiveless and frenzied knife attack on a schoolgirl left for dead in a public park with 20 stab wounds. Kristofer Beddar, 21, had drunk half a bottle of whisky after being sacked from his job as a bakery apprentice at Tesco when he attacked Jessica Knight as she walked home through the deserted park in Chorley, Lancashire, listening to her iPod.

Jessica, who was 14 at the time, survived only thanks to a passer-by who spotted her lying on the dark path and managed to stem the blood flow from a severed artery. She had five hours of emergency surgery to her chest, neck, stomach and back.

Beddar was arrested after confessing to his English mother, Marion, who took him to police. He was convicted of attempted murder following a six-day trial at Preston Crown Court during which jurors heard he was prone to outbursts of temper and had lost his job after a series of tantrums.

Judge Anthony Russell QC sentenced him to a minimum of 12 years and said it was clear Beddar had intended to kill his victim. "On 21 January this year, for no reason that can be ascertained, you attacked Jessica Knight and left her for dead.

"This was a frenzied attack with a knife you habitually carried. Your intention was to kill her and no one knows why. There is no evidence of any mental illness which could explain it. Anyone who can do what you did must be regarded as a danger to the public." Beddar admitted grievous bodily harm but denied attempted murder, claiming he had no memory of the attack. He had tried to dispose of his bloodstained clothing and then told his mother: "Mum, I think it must have been me." Mrs Beddar, who gave evidence, told an officer at their local police station: "This is my son. I have brought him in. He is responsible for the stabbing."

The defendant settled in Lancashire with his mother last year and drifted through low-paid jobs before securing a post as trainee baker. Managers at the supermarket did not renew his contract after several confrontations, including an incident when he pretended to stab a colleague. He lost his job two days before the attack on Jessica.

Richard Knight, Jessica's father, said Beddar had lost all control. "It's anger. Simple as that," he said outside court. "The picture painted is a chap, I wouldn't say a loner, but in a foreign country, who can't hold a job down and just very frustrated with life. Quite simply, the guy is a coward. The list of injuries she had read like a script out of Casualty [the BBC hospital drama]."

Jessica is still recovering and coping with "long-term physical and psychological problems", the court heard. She has permanent disability and has suffered a stroke. Judge Russell told Beddar: "You have not only ruined her life, you have ruined that of her loving family and even succeeded in ruining the life of your own family."