Knifeman caught by spit is jailed


A knifeman who stabbed a pensioner six times in a "frenzied" attack and was caught because he spat on the pavement was jailed today.

David Walters, 23, was given an indeterminate sentence with a minimum of seven years in prison at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to attempted murder.

The court heard that Walters, of Vixen Close, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester, stabbed 75-year-old Maria Morrison several times with a knife at a bus stop in Arrowfield Road last December as he screamed "Die! Die!".

Police identified him after an officer who was monitoring CCTV cameras saw a man carrying a knife stop and spit near the crime scene.

The officer radioed colleagues and directed them to the spot where the spit was, allowing forensic police to recover DNA evidence which provided a match with Walters.

The court heard Walters carried out the attack while in a jealous "rage".

Prosecuting, Tim Greenald said Walters, who was on licence for attacking a prison officer at the time, had left his house with a 10-12 inch knife after a Facebook spat with his then girlfriend and his cousin, Anthony Wilks.

Walters was upset about attention he thought his girlfriend had been receiving and left a message on her Facebook page in which he said he would kill the people who made her "end the relationship".

Mr Greenald said: "Walters sent a message saying 'It's straight up 187 cos now I lost you I ain't got nowt to lose'."

He explained that 187 is the code for murder in the Californian penal code.

Walters subsequently left his house with the intention of going to Mr Wilks's address but came across Mrs Morrison, 74 at the time, near a bus stop outside Southern Cemetery.

CCTV footage showed that his random attack on her lasted for 47 seconds.

She received at least six wounds and was left with part of her lip hanging off and unconscious.

A passing motorist helped Mrs Morrison and she spent more than a week in hospital.

Mr Greenald said that after making his escape through a nearby housing estate, Walters later went back on Facebook and wrote to his girlfriend: "Murder has been committed, you thought I was joking. If you speak to Anthony Wilks let him know he is going to die."

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC described Walters' actions as a "frenzied attack" which came about due to his "obsessive sexual jealousy".

He said: "You, David Walters, thought your girlfriend was subject of unwelcome attention via Facebook from Mr Wilks.

"Whether or not she was, grown men and grown women have to put up with the fact that their relationships come under strain as perhaps someone else is interested or for whatever reason.

"These vicissitudes must be accepted with maturity.

"Your response was to arm yourself with a knife.

"Having gone out armed you came across an entirely innocent 74-year-old one morning last December.

"There she was. Your head was filled with obsessive jealousy and sense of rage at the slight you felt and you chose to set upon her as if she was somehow responsible."

Judge Gilbart said that the court paid tribute to Mrs Morrison.

He said: "She is a woman of spirit and character and she struggled to avoid some of the blows and fortunately through her spirit you, David Walters, did not kill her.

"This court pays tribute to the indomitable spirit displayed by this very brave woman."

Originally from Spain, Mrs Morrison moved to Britain in 1962 and altered dresses for a living before she retired.

Today she described finding a "strength" she did not know she had during the attack.

Mrs Morrison said: "I wasn't supposed to go out that day, I had just planned to rest, but my TV broke the day before so I wanted to get someone to fix it."

Describing her feeling during the attack, she said: "I thought it was the end, he kept screaming 'die, die, die', it happened so quick, within two minutes.

"The pain, I didn't even think of it, you don't when you have to defend yourself. I was just thinking how I could get away from him.

"When he pushed me against a fence, I thought that was the end of it.

"I closed my eyes and tried to kick him and I grabbed his sleeve to push him back.

"I felt a strength I didn't know I had. I pushed the knife away from my neck."

Mrs Morrison said she forgave Walters for what he had done.

She said: "God forgives everyone, so I have got to forgive him.

"I was so angry, but I forgive him."

A devout Catholic, Mrs Morrison was comforted after the attack by Pc Simon Coates, who gave her his crucifix to hold on to.

Pc Coates said: "It became apparent she was very religious and she had asked for a priest to speak with her.

"I carry a crucifix on me and I happily gave it to her.

"It was a reassurance to her, she said it made her feel better.

"She wrapped it around her hand and I think it was something she clung on to."

In a victim impact statement read in court by Judge Gilbart, Mrs Morrison said she still suffers from "constant pain" stemming from her injuries and is afraid to go out in Manchester on her own.

Michael Lavery, defending Walters, said his client recognised the seriousness of what he had done and the "disgrace" he had brought upon himself.