Woman who tried to kill her housemate in Wigan fails to attend court to hear her punishment for a SECOND time

The sentencing of a woman who admitted trying to kill her housemate in a flurry of knife blows and by throwing a pan of boiling water over her has been delayed after she failed to attend court for a second time.

Friday, 9th October 2020, 12:35 pm
Updated Friday, 9th October 2020, 12:38 pm

Awa Zongo was due to find out her punishment at Manchester Crown Court today (October 9) after previously pleading guilty to attempted murder.

But Judge Patrick Field, QC was told she had not left her prison cell to attend the hearing due to a misunderstanding about the sentencing being today.

Rather than sentence Zongo in her absence, it was decided that the case would be adjourned until Friday, October 30.

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Manchester Crown Court

However Judge Field warned that if Zongo failed to attend this hearing, she would be sentenced in her absence.

The court had heard how staff at Styal Prison had tried to wake her up so she could go on the van to attend the hearing but she refused to get out of bed or the cell.

However, after Zongo's solicitor Steven Swift and her French interpreter managed to contact her, she had woken up and said she didn't understand the sentence hearing was today.

Mr Swift said there had been some "confusion".

He said: "Myself and the interpreter spoke to her after she was awoken this morning. She said she didn't understand it was the sentence hearing today and we explained the significance of that.

"We asked the question if it was her intention to be present and she replied yes.

"The defendant didn't express any reluctance to be at court."

In response, Judge Field said: "The hearing will go ahead on the 30th, there will be no doubt about that.

"If she refuses, the sentence will proceed in absence."

Zongo launched what police described as a “frenzied attack” on Asam Panahandeh with a knife, the last blow from which embedded itself in the terrified victim’s neck and missed lethally severing a main artery by only millimetres, the court previously heard.

Onlookers were greeted by a scene of total horror as both victim and attacker came out onto Atherton Road, Hindley, from a house where asylum-seekers live, drenched in blood.

A barefoot Ms Panahandeh could be seen with the hilt of the knife jutting from her neck before she collapsed and the weapon was left in situ until she could receive treatment in hospital.

The catalogue of the 39-year-old’s injuries included some three dozen stab wounds to her neck, chest, stomach and thighs.

The surgeon who operated upon her to remove the blade said that she would likely have died if the final wound had cut through her carotid artery but thankfully the blow missed it by a fraction.

A pan of scalding water had also been poured over her, causing burns to the face, left shoulder, arm and back, and covered up to 20 per cent of her body’s surface area.

The violence erupted on the morning of December 14 during a row between the two women and 28-year-old Zongo herself needed hospital treatment for minor injuries after her victim fought back.

Police and paramedics arrived at the scene between 10.20am and 10.40am and a neighbour saw the defendant place herself on the floor before the ambulance arrived.

Zongo, of Atherton Road, Hindley, admitted the attack on her housemate during police interview and she was charged with attempted murder.

At the time onlookers spoke of their shock and horror at what they witnessed in the street.