Teen stabbed stranger because he was in a ‘bad mood’ on walk back from supermarket

Thomas Waeling, 18, stabbed 50-year-old Sarah Taylor in a car park on Bohemia Road, Hastings

Jabed Ahmed
Friday 26 January 2024 17:14 GMT
Thomas Waeling
Thomas Waeling (Sussex Police)

A teenager who stabbed a stranger walking back from the supermarket because he was in a “bad mood” has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Thomas Waeling, 18, “armed himself with a very large knife” after an argument with his dad and stabbed 50-year-old Sarah Taylor in a car park on Bohemia Road, Hastings on 15 May last year.

Waeling left a property wearing a black hooded top and covering his face, according to Sussex Police.

He later told a friend: “I’m going to stab someone, I’m in the mood. The first person I see I’m going to stab.”

He stabbed Ms Taylor multiple times, including once through the chest.

She suffered a punctured lung and other wounds, and had to be airlifted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

After the attack, Waeling abandoned the knife in a public toilet, changed his clothes, and asked a friend to burn the clothes he had been wearing, Sussex Police said.

Presiding Judge Christine Laing KC said it was “one of the most depressing cases she had to deal with for quite some time”, as he was sentenced for attempted murder at Lewes Crown Court.

“For me, one of the most depressing and hardest to understand aspects is the fact is you had some sort of argument with your dad,” she added.

“You decided to take out your frustrations and your anger on a completely random stranger.

“It was Ms Taylor’s utter misfortune that she happened to leave Lidl just at that time and went in a direction that meant she left the main road … and made herself a target for you simply to vent your frustration on.”

Judge Laing said Waeling, who was 17 at the time of the “utterly senseless” attack, had deliberately taken a knife to murder someone with it for the “sole reason being your bad mood at the time”.

Waeling was found guilty of attempted murder following a trial in November where a jury returned a majority verdict.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Taylor said how she had been left with severe post traumatic stress disorder and suffered life-changing injuries.

The musician has no feeling in 30% of her arm and is no longer able to play her instrument or sing despite music being her only source of income for the last five years.

Judge Laing added: “If you ask members of the public [about] the time to be afraid it’s walking home very late at night in a deserted place and in the dark. Not coming out of the supermarket carrying your shopping bags at the end of the working day.

“I have little doubt Ms Taylor will find doing these simple things like shopping for her supper very traumatising.”

Judge Laing also said that at the heart of the case was the “habit” of young people carrying knives, adding: “It has got to stop.”

Defending Waeling, Neil Fitzgibbon said the youth was “apologetic, remorseful and devastated” at what Ms Taylor has had to go through.

“He wishes … that he could turn the hands of time back and he wishes he could apologise to Ms Taylor for what he did,” he told the court.

Waeling, formerly of Kenilworth Road, St Leonards, was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment and three years on extended licence.

He was also handed a nine-month concurrent sentence for possessing a knife.

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Yates, Sussex Police force lead for knife crime and serious violence, said: “We have removed offensive weapons, harmful substances, and dangerous offenders from the streets of Sussex and will continue to do so 365 days a year.

“While seizing weapons is our ultimate goal, engaging with our communities and speaking with young people is key in diverting from criminality.

“Working with our partners, we can offer support and guidance to anyone concerned about knife crime – whether that’s for themselves or on behalf of someone else.”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in